It’s great news to know, as the United Nations and global development partners mark World Chagas Disease Day today, that according to the latest WHO data published in 2020, total deaths by Chagas disease in Nigeria were 0 or 0.00%. The age-adjusted death rate is 0.00 per 100,000 population, ranking Nigeria #183 globally.
In 2000, there were over 1.7 billion people worldwide affected by Chagas Disease (CD), a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) that affects over a billion people worldwide; therefore, it is imperative that its Time to integrate Chagas Disease into primary health care. People with Chagas Disease can be found anywhere in the world. However, the transmission of the disease through the bite of “kissing bugs” (vector-borne transmission) occurs only in the Americas, typically in rural areas of Mexico, Central America and South America. The disease can also transmit from mother to child during pregnancy or through blood transfusions and organ transplants. Fatigue, fever, swollen glands, and digestive disturbances are some of the symptoms of the disease.
Neglected Tropical Disease (NTA) is described as a group of infectious diseases that are common in tropical and subtropical regions. They are caused by pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi and toxins. These diseases are largely overlooked and underfunded, yet they cause significant illness, disability, and death. Chagas Disease is a Neglected Tropical Disease that is not entirely dissimilar to African Sleeping Sickness, which is also an NTA. Both Sleeping Sickness and Chagas Disease are infectious diseases caused by the same parasite – Trypanosoma. The parasite Trypanosoma cruzi is the cause of Chagas Disease, while Trypanosoma brucei gambiense causes Sleeping Sickness. These parasites live in animals and can transmit from person to person threatening millions of people around the world, including 36 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa. Displacement of populations, war and poverty are also important factors that facilitate the transmission of the disease. As such, many people affected by the disease live in remote rural areas with limited access to adequate health services, complicating surveillance, diagnosis and treatment of cases.
As I end this work week, I commend the dedication of every Wellbeing Foundation Africa State Project Team across Nigeria.
The Wellbeing Foundation Africa programs are anchored through our flagship Mamacare360 Antenatal & Postnatal Program structure across Nigeria. Our Sokoto and Kano State Teams are making impactful progress in scaling up Zinc-LO-ORS treatments to reduce childhood diarrhoea in Northern Nigeria, supported by Nutritional International & the Government of Canada. The Lagos, Kwara, and Osun States Teams continue our WBFA Mamacare-Dettol Nigeria Hygiene Quest Programs in health care facilities, schools and communities across the FCT Abuja, Lagos and Kwara States, alongside our Osun and Cross River State Teams that continue Mamacare Maternity Programs.