Socioeconomic profile and perceptions of Chagas disease in indigenous communities of the Paraguayan Chaco
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Chagas disease continues to be a problem in indigenous communities of the Paraguayan Central Chaco because of the high infection prevalence. The study area presents great environmental and biological diversity, high temperatures, low rainfall, poverty and rapid vector reinfestation. This descriptive study analyzed the demographic and socioeconomic profiles and knowledge, beliefs and attitudes toward Chagas disease in four indigenous communities.
A household survey was used as an instrument for gathering information from 270 families as well as a survey of social networks, in-depth interviews and focus groups with key informants and four participatory diagnoses.
A high percentage of the studied population did not know about the disease (72%), but 80% of them identified the presence of the main vector in their homes. They had poor knowledge of the vector as an annoying bug to be eliminated (19%) and did not relate it to the disease. Half of the population thinks that there is no risk of contracting the disease, which could be curable (52.7%). Work activities were linked to Mennonite groups, and solidarity cooperation and mutual aid with exchanges of favors, mainly related to food, were common.
There is no knowledge about Chagas disease in these communities because of different factors, including not associating symptoms with the disease, the predominance of ethnic languages, which limit the education process, and lack of access to public health. National Chagas Program efforts should be complemented by other programs with health education and improved learning conditions based on a comprehensive approach according to the rights and specific cultural characteristics of these populations.
KeywordsAttitude Chagas Indigenous Knowlegde Populations Poverty Practices
The authors thank the four indigenous communities of the Chaco.
The International Development Research Center (IDRC) financed the study, project no. A70596. The article was initially drafted and reviewed in the workshop of the Communicable Diseases Research Program of the Communicable Diseases and Health Analysis Department of PAHO/WHO, which supports and disseminates the eco-health approach. All authors belong to the National Program of Incentives to Researchers (PRONII in Spanish) from the CONACYT Paraguay. The authors thank to Dr. Carla Cecere by the indigenous communities map published.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
CM Arrom Suhurt declares that she has no conflict of interest.
CH Arrom Suhurt declares that she has no conflict of interest.
MA Arrom Suhurt declares that she has no conflict of interest.
M Rolón declares that she has no conflict of interest.
MC Vega Gómez declares that she has no conflict of interest.
A Rojas de Arias declares that she has no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was previously obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
The Fundación Moisés Bertoni Ethical Committee approved the protocol of this study in July 2009.
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