Indexed on: 19 Aug '17Published on: 19 Aug '17Published in: PLoS neglected tropical diseases
Bolivia has the highest prevalence of Chagas disease (CD) in the world (6.1%), with more than 607,186 people with Trypanosoma cruzi infection, most of them adults. In Bolivia CD has been declared a national priority. In 2009, the Chagas National Program (ChNP) had neither a protocol nor a clear directive for diagnosis and treatment of adults. Although programs had been implemented for congenital transmission and for acute cases, adults remained uncovered. Moreover, health professionals were not aware of treatment recommendations aimed at this population, and research on CD was limited; it was difficult to increase awareness of the disease, understand the challenges it presented, and adapt strategies to cope with it. Simultaneously, migratory flows that led Bolivian patients with CD to Spain and other European countries forced medical staff to look for solutions to an emerging problem.In this context, thanks to a Spanish international cooperation collaboration, the Bolivian platform for the comprehensive care of adults with CD was created in 2009. Based on the establishment of a vertical care system under the umbrella of ChNP general guidelines, six centres specialized in CD management were established in different epidemiological contexts. A common database, standardized clinical forms, a and a protocolized attention to adults patients, together with training activities for health professionals were essential for the model success. With the collaboration and knowledge transfer activities between endemic and non-endemic countries, the platform aims to provide care, train health professionals, and create the basis for a future expansion to the National Health System of a proven model of care for adults with CD.From 2010 to 2015, a total of 26,227 patients were attended by the Platform, 69% (18,316) were diagnosed with T. cruzi, 8,567 initiated anti-parasitic treatment, more than 1,616 health professionals were trained, and more than ten research projects developed. The project helped to increase the number of adults with CD diagnosed and treated, produce evidence-based clinical practice guidelines, and bring about changes in policy that will increase access to comprehensive care among adults with CD. The ChNP is now studying the Platform's health care model to adapt and implement it nationwide.This strategy provides a solution to unmet demands in the care of patients with CD, improving access to diagnosis and treatment. Further scaling up of diagnosis and treatment will be based on the expansion of the model of care to the NHS structures. Its sustainability will be ensured as it will build on existing local resources in Bolivia. Still human trained resources are scarce and the high staff turnover in Bolivia is a limitation of the model. Nevertheless, in a preliminary two-years-experience of scaling up this model, this limitations have been locally solved together with the health local authorities.