From a global perspective, Chagas disease represents the third largest tropical disease burden after malaria and schistosomiasis. The estimated average annual per-capita gross domestic product in Latin America is US$2,966. The economic loss for the continent due to early mortality and disability by this disease in economically most productive young adults currently amounts to US$8,156 million which is equivalent to 2.5% of the external debt of the whole continent in 1995. In 1991, the Ministers of Health of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, launched the Southern Cone Initiative for elimination of transmission of Chagas disease. The progress towards elimination of vectorial and transfusional transmission of Chagas disease in Uruguay, Chile, Argentina and Brazil has been documented by reports from the national control programmes of the above countries. Current data on disinfestation of houses, coverage of screening in blood banks and serology in children and young adults indicate that the interruption of the vectorial and transfusional transmission of Chagas disease will be achieved in these countries as follows: Uruguay and Chile in 1999, Brazil and Argentina in 2003. By eliminating the transmission of Chagas disease in the above countries, the incidence of the disease in the whole of Latin America will be reduced by more than 70%.