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From left to righ, Miguel Baltasar García, Rita Marzoa and Jordi Gómez. PHOTO: GERMÁN PARGA.

This Thursday the “Beat the silence. Beat Chagas disease” campaign was unveiled by the FC Barcelona Foundation, the Catalan Agency for Cooperation and Development, the Leo Messi Foundation, the BID (Interamerican Development Bank) and the Catalan’s Institute’s International Health Program (PROSICS); with the support of the Neglected Disease Department of the World Health Organization (WHO), FindeChagas, ISGlobal (Barcelona Institute for Global Health) and the Healthy World Foundation.

The presentation took place in the Sala Roma at the Camp Nou. FC Barcelona President Sandro Rosell, FC Barcelona Foundation’s first vice president Ramon Pont, director general of the Generalitat de Catalunya Cooperation and Development Agency Carles Llorens, coordinator of Tropical Medial Unit and International Health Drassanes of the Catalan Institute for Health Dr. Jordi Gómez and campaign spokesperson Miguel Baltasar García were present.

Messi’s greatness

During Mr. Rosell’s presentation, the president praised Leo Messi’s exemplary behaviour. “I believe that Barça will never have a player like Leo Messi ever again. Messi’s greatness is both on and off the pitch,” he said. Mr. Rosell then went on to evaluate the Foundation’s initiative: “we believe in the Foundation and we’re very convinced by their mission.”

During the event, led by the journalist Rita Marzoa, attendees were able to see the debut of the campaign’s promotional video which features Migual Baltasar García and Messi.

Beating Chagas disease is possible

The campaign’s goal is to raise awareness amongst the population of the danger of Chagas disease and the importance of getting tested, and in the event the disease is contracted, the importance of receiving treatment (both pharmaceutical and psychosocial). Chagas disease is normally an asymptomatic condition that, without treatment, typically leads to sudden death. In fact, according to the latest studies only 10% of Chagas disease cases have been diagnosed. It’s a silent disease that has gained a fearsome reputation.

The campaign released a video that explains the story of Migual Baltasar García, an 85-year-old retired rail worker that was infected with Chagas who currently lives in Barcelona. Migual was born in Charapa, in the province of Chaco, Argentina, a part of the country that is endemic to the disease. He’s a living example of how someone can survive Chagas. He was tested at a young age and he started treatment soon there after. Thanks to his fighting spirit, Miguel has managed to beat the disease, have a good quality of life and realize one of his biggest dreams: to meet his countryman and idol, Leo Messi.

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