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Unitaid seeks to support new approaches to tackle Chagas disease

11 Dec 2019

Brasilia – Unitaid has launched a call for proposals for new projects that can help eliminate congenital infection of Chagas disease through better diagnosis and treatment, within the context of its work in maternal and child health. The new call reflects increased global attention and country commitment to fight Chagas disease.

Today’s announcement in Brazil puts a focus on fighting this neglected tropical disease that infects 6-7 million people and kills more than 10,000 each year. Worldwide, 75 million people are at risk of Chagas disease.

“Attacking this silent killer through early diagnosis and improved treatments will not only change the lives of women of child-bearing age by curing them of Chagas disease but also protect the future of millions of newborns by preventing the transmission from mother to child,” said Unitaid’s Executive Director Lelio Marmora.

Chagas is endemic to 21 Latin American countries, including Brazil, where it causes more deaths than any other parasitic disease, including malaria.

“Chagas disease infects millions of people in Brazil and in Latin America. The Government of Brazil welcomes this initiative and will collaborate closely with Unitaid to eliminate this neglected tropical disease,”said Brazil Minister of Health Dr. Luiz Henrique Mandetta.

While most cases occur in Latin America, often in the poorest and most marginalized communities, the disease is increasingly spreading to other geographies.

Mother-to-child transmission is a key infection route for Chagas disease, with at least two million women of child-bearing age estimated to be chronically infected with Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite that causes Chagas disease. Evidence has shown that active screening and optimal treatment can prevent congenital transmission. Furthermore, given the success of treatment in newborns, during prenatal or at-birth care, early detection of infection in infants is critical to preventing the number of hospitalizations and deaths related to Chagas disease.

The deadline to submit a proposal is 27th February 2020, at 17:00 Geneva time.

Through its calls for proposals, Unitaid finds smart new ideas to help relieve the burden of diseases, to break down access barriers, to enable scale-up by partner organizations and countries and to reach people in need. A review committee of independent experts in global health helps choose the best proposals to fund through a competitive selection process.