In today’s interconnected world, many diseases go unnoticed by mainstream medical research and public health initiatives. These conditions, known as “forgotten diseases,” disproportionately affect impoverished and marginalized communities and fall through the cracks of global health priorities. Among these, Chagas disease stands out as a tragic example of the deadly combination of disease and indifference. This neglected disease, caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and transmitted by the triatomine bug — not a mosquito, as many people believe — has caused significant suffering throughout Latin America, but it is largely ignored by the rest of the world.

Chagas disease is a silent killer. It kills approximately 12,000 people each year, but, astonishingly, less than 1 percent of those affected receive the necessary treatment, and an unknown number go undiagnosed. These are more than just statistics; they represent individual lives, families torn apart and countless narratives forever changed by a disease that thrives on neglect. The tragedy of Chagas disease is exacerbated by the fact that it was discovered more than a century ago but there are still significant knowledge gaps and few treatment options available.

Despite its long history, the fight against Chagas disease has been characterized by stagnation rather than progress. Alarmingly, despite the disease’s increasing prevalence, research into new treatment methods has stalled. Of the estimated 6 million people living with Chagas, less than 7 percent have been diagnosed, and only 1 percent have access to treatment. The disease’s insidious nature exacerbates this dire situation; many infected people are unaware of their condition until it progresses to chronic stages, such as Chagas cardiomyopathy, which is potentially fatal.

The poor are the demographic most vulnerable to this deadly affliction, highlighting the disease’s preventable nature in stark contrast to its relentless toll on human life, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. However, Chagas disease is no longer limited to Latin America. Emerging as a major global health concern fueled by migration patterns, Chagas now poses a growing threat in countries such as the United States. This growing footprint emphasizes the importance of elevating Chagas disease from a footnote to the forefront of international health debate. 

In response to this urgent issue, the Chagas Disease Alliance at Yale, or CDAY, has emerged as a beacon of hope and action. This initiative unites Yale University and renowned Latin American intellectuals to combat Chagas disease through a long-term project aimed at saving lives and preventing the development of Chagas cardiomyopathy. CDAY’s mission extends beyond the search for a cure to mobilize a global community committed to reducing mortality and improving the well-being of those affected by Chagas disease. CDAY recognizes the importance of collaboration in dealing with complex health crises. We are dedicated to developing strategic, research-driven, and globally applicable solutions to this neglected disease by leveraging the knowledge and insights of the continent’s best minds. Our alliance is motivated by the belief that by working together and thinking creatively, we can turn the tide on Chagas disease and alleviate the suffering it causes in millions of people’s lives. As we mark World Chagas Disease Day on April 14, our appeal extends beyond scientific expertise to anyone who is moved by compassion and a desire for change. CDAY is actively looking to grow its membership by inviting a diverse range of participants to share their unique perspectives and ideas. From conducting fieldwork in Argentina to leading initiatives in Colombia, there is a pressing need for fresh perspectives, enthusiastic participation and committed support. This is a call to action for you to join us on this critical mission.

Your efforts in the fight against Chagas disease have the potential to have a significant impact. By banding together, we can transform indifference into action, igniting a global movement to combat and defeat this disease. Let us join forces to bring hope and healing to those suffering from Chagas disease, transforming despair into a future in which no life is lost due to indifference. Join us at CDAY to be a part of a larger movement championing the cause of forgotten diseases and making a real difference in the world. 

MARÍA ALEJANDRA GUTIÉRREZ TORRES is a research fellow at the Yale School of Medicine. Contact her at