Photo story |

Treating Chagas in Rural Bolivia: A Photo Story

Photograph by Juan Renau
An MSF doctor provides a patient with Chagas treatment for a week in Comun Pampa.

MSF has been working in the province of Narciso Campero in Bolivia to prevent, diagnose, and treat Chagas disease.

Despite the fact that the medicines used to treat it are over 40 years old and have strong side effects, MSF has been successfully providing treatment for Chagas patients with good resultsSince the beginning of the project, MSF has screened 10,414 people; 4.466 tested positive for Chagas and 1,804 patients completed treatment. 

Chagas disease is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which is transmitted to humans by blood-sucking bugs. The majority of those infected show no signs or symptoms at the time of infection, and the symptoms can go unnoticed for many years. Ultimately, debilitating chronic symptoms develop in approximately one-third of people infected, with heart failure being the most common complication and cause of death for adults. Chagas disease is endemic in 21 countries in Latin America, with up to 8-10 million cases globally, resulting in an estimated 12,500 annual deaths.

Chagas continues to be a silent and neglected disease, and it is necessary to raise awareness and inform the population to help prevent it.

Kissing bugs (known as "vinchucas" in Bolivia and other Latin American countries) are usually found in houses in rural areas and spread Chagas disease. These houses are made of adobe, a mixture of clay and straw, Bolivia, 2012.
Kissing bugs (known as "vinchucas" in Bolivia and other Latin American countries) are usually found in houses in rural areas. These houses are made of adobe, a mixture of clay and straw.
Province of Narciso Campero, Bolivia, where MSF runs a pilot intervention to prevent, diagnose, and treat Chagas in rural and sometimes isolated communities. Bolivia is the country with the highest prevalence of this neglected disease, 2012.
In the province of Narciso Campero, in Bolivia, MSF runs a pilot intervention to prevent, diagnose and treat Chagas in rural and sometimes isolated communities. Bolivia is the country with the highest prevalence of this neglected disease.
In Karuma, the community gathered for an informative meeting on Chagas disease. Communitary education is a key aspect of the MSF project in Aiquile, Bolivia, and meetings are held in Quechua, the local language, 2012.
Community education is a key aspect of the MSF project in Aiquile. In Karuma, most of the community gathered for an informative meeting on Chagas disease, with the MSF team. It was held in Quechua, the local language.
Chagas patient Hilario, was chosen to help the MSF staff monitor the situation in the community of Chujillas, Bolivia, 2012.
In Chujllas, patient Hilario was chosen to help the MSF staff monitor the situation in the community. Those who find vinchucas at their homes, inform him so that he can report it to the authorities.
An MSF doctor consults with patients in the community of Comum Pampa, Bolivia 2012.
An MSF doctor consults with patients in the community.
An MSF doctor provides a patient with Chagas treatment for a week in Comun Pampa.
An MSF doctor provides a patient with Chagas treatment for a week in Comun Pampa.
An MSF staff member holds an informational meeting on Chagas treatment in the community of Kochapata.
An MSF staff member holds an informational meeting on Chagas treatment in the community of Kochapata.
When Chagas starts causing cardiac or digestive problems, patients require surgery. Thanks to an alliance between MSF and the NGO Puente de Solidaridad, pacemakers were provided for the patients who needed them. Abel Guerra Montaña, 39, feels much better since he received one last year, Bolivia 2012.
When Chagas starts causing cardiac or digestive problems, patients require surgery. Thanks to an alliance between MSF and the NGO Puente de Solidaridad, pacemakers were provided for the patients who needed them. Abel Guerra Montaña, 39, feels much better
MSF teams visit patients in rural communities once a week as part of the Chagas project in Bolivia. They leave medicines for the following week and check that the treatment is going well, 2012.
MSF teams visit patients in the rural communities once a week. They leave medicines for the following week and check that the treatment is going well.
An important aspect of MSF's Chagas project in Narciso Campero, Bolivia, is vector control. Hundreds of houses were fumigated in the near-by municipalities in coordination with national Chagas program.
Vector control is also an important aspect of MSF´s project in Narciso Campero. Last year, hundreds of houses were fumigated in the municipalities of Omereque, Pasorapa and Aiquile in coordination with the national Chagas program.
Pastor and his family received their diagnose in Kochapata, Bolivia. He and some of his children tested positive for Chagas and they will begin treatment, 2012.
Pastor and his family received their diagnose in Kochapata, where they live. He and some of his children tested positive for Chagas. They were preparing to start treatment when this photo was taken. 
In the community of Chujillas, Bolivia, those diagnosed with Chagas carried out the approximately three months treatment process, which varies from weight of the patient. After treatment concludes, patients receive a certificate, 2012.
Most of the people who were diagnosed with Chagas disease in the community of Chujllas carried out the treatment. It lasts approximately three months, depending on the patients weight. After the community concluded the treatment, they were all handed cert

All photographs by Juan Renau