La science sociale de la médecine

DAVOS – Quand j’étais étudiant en médecine au milieu des années 1980, j’ai contracté le paludisme en Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée. Ce fut une expérience malheureuse. Ma tête me faisait mal. Ma température était montée en flèche. J’étais devenu anémique. Mais je me suis soigné et j’ai été mieux. L'expérience n’était pas agréable mais, grâce à des médicaments bon marché et efficaces contre le paludisme, je n’ai jamais été en très grand danger.

Les pilules qui m'ont guéri, des comprimés de chloroquine, ne fonctionnent plus. Même à l'époque où je les prenais, le parasite qui cause la malaria était déjà devenu résistant à la chloroquine dans de nombreuses parties du monde ; la Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée était l'un des derniers endroits où ces pilules continuaient à être efficaces et, même là, elles avaient commencé à perdre de leur puissance. Aujourd'hui, la chloroquine a pratiquement disparu de notre arsenal thérapeutique.

La capacité croissante des agents pathogènes à résister aux antibiotiques et autres médicaments antimicrobiens est en train d’émerger en tant que la plus grande crise pour les soins de santé contemporains – et c’est une crise qui ne peut pas être résolue par la science seule.

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