Increasing access to comprehensive care for Chagas disease: Development of a patient-centered model in Colombia

by Marchiol A, Forsyth C, Bernal O, Valencia C, Cucunubá Z, Pachón E, Soto M, Batista CPan American Journal of Public Health 2017,41:e153, doi 10.26633/RPSP.2017.153.

Summary: Worldwide, over 6 million people are infected with Trypanosoma cruzi, the pathogen that causes Chagas disease (CD). In the Americas, CD creates the greatest burden in disability-adjusted life years of any parasitic infection. In Colombia, 437 000 people are infected with T. cruzi, of whom 131 000 suffer from cardiomyopathy. Colombia’s annual costs for treating patients with advanced CD reach US$ 175 016 000. Although timely etiological treatment can significantly delay or prevent development of cardiomyopathy—and costs just US$ 30 per patient—fewer than 1% of people with CD in Colombia and elsewhere receive it. This represents a missed opportunity for increasing patients’ healthy, productive years of life while significantly reducing the economic burden on the health care system. Key barriers are complexities and delays in the diagnosis and treatment process, lack of awareness of CD among both patients and health care professionals, and administrative barriers at the primary care level.

In 2015, stakeholders from government, academia, nongovernmental organizations, and patient associations participated in a seminar in the city of Bogotá on eliminating barriers to diagnosis and treatment for CD. The seminar gave birth to a model of care for increasing patient access, including a patient road map that simplifies diagnostic and treatment processes, shifting them from specialists to primary care facilities. The patient road map was implemented in a pilot project in four endemic communities beginning in 2016, with the goal of testing and refining the model so it can be implemented nationally. This article describes key components in the development of a new, recently implemented model of care for CD in Colombia.

Click here to read the article / PDF