This paper describes a health education project targeting a rural community and health professionals from counties undergoing epidemiological surveillance for Chagas disease vectors in the State of Paraná, Brazil. A group of technicians from the Brazilian National Health Foundation (FUNASA) was trained, together with teachers, workers, and students from the State University of Maringá, who prepared an instructions manual and drew up guidelines for reporting presence of triatomines or suspected cases of Trypanosoma cruziinfection. From June 1996 through February 2000, the activities reached 742 families, 2,300 schoolchildren, and 27 teachers from 18 elementary schools, and included a meeting between FUNASA members and 40 participants, 21 meetings in health centers, and provision of a set of preserved triatomine specimens for use in vector surveillance and identification. After three years of health education activities and insecticide treatment (cipermetrina 125 mg i.a./m2), there was a reduction of 80.6% in households infested with triatomines and increased awareness among rural residents and health workers. The authors discuss the need to train professionals committed to changing Brazil's prevailing health model.
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