Izumi Foundation Donates $138,200 to Fund Esperança Chagas Disease Project in Bolivia for Two Years

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Izumi Foundation Donates $138,200 to Fund Esperança Chagas Disease Project in Bolivia for Two Years

PHOENIX, Ariz. (Dec. 19, 2011)…The Izumi Foundation, based in Boston, Mass., has awarded grant funding in the amount of $138,200 to Esperança over the next two years to enable them to train 15,000 families in three cities in Tarija, Bolivia to rid their homes of the vinchuca bug which causes Chagas Disease.

“Chagas disease is one of the greatest public health problems in Bolivia and affects thousands of people living throughout Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Tom Egan, President and CEO of Esperança. “In some areas, the infection rate is more than 20 percent.”

The vinchuca bug thrives in thatched roofs and mud walls of typical homes in the region. The bugs have developed immunity to the chemicals used for fumigation, so it can be very difficult to combat and eliminate the problem.

People who contract Chagas may initially have flu-like symptoms or swelling and redness near the site of the insect bite for a week or ten days, but many have no symptoms at all. They can remain symptom free for the next 10 to 20 year until they begin to experience organ failures. An enlarged heart, liver or megacolon are common complications.

For the past 10 years, Esperança has been working with Bolivian families to train them to identify and eliminate the bug, protect their homes, choose building materials the insects dislike, get tested and if necessary, get early life-saving treatment. To date, Esperança has reached more than 25,000 families and 6,300 families have received assistance to repair their homes using safer materials to eliminate vinchucca.

The first community in southern Bolivia to receive training was San Lucas. Thanks to Esperança’s efforts the infestation rate has dropped from 20 to less than 2.4% percent. Impressed with the results, the Imuzi Foundation granted Esperanca $51,448 to spend during July 2010 to June 2011. The money was used to train rural villagers in Chuquisaca, Bolivia.

“The results of that project were so promising, we have decided to increase our funding and enable Esperanca to reach another 15,000 families in three cities,” said Eliza Petrow of the Izumi Foundation. “Esperança’s mission compliments our work nicely. Our Foundation works to assist the world’s poorest people by supporting programs that improve health in developing countries. We’re proud to be associated with this project and are confident they are improving the health and well-being for thousands of families in Bolivia.”

A new component of the project includes schools. Children will receive instruction at school and their homework includes searching for bugs at home. Several local governments, who have also been impressed the results, are now requiring their public health workers to receive training in these effective methods to combat the persistent problem of Chagas disease.

About Esperança
Since 1970, Esperanca has been providing programs to improve the health and well being of the world’s poor. Our programs include volunteer surgical missions, health education, training of community health workers, home building, clean water projects, micro enterprise, agricultural development, dental treatment and prevention, and donation of medical equipment and supplies to more than 14 countries. Our goal is to build clean, sustainable and healthy communities worldwide. To learn more, visit:

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