Cuidados oncológicos para os países em desenvolvimento

BOSTON – Há mais de quarenta anos, o Presidente dos EUA, Richard Nixon, inspirado pelos primeiros resultados animadores que demonstraram que através da quimioterapia se podiam curar doenças como a leucemia linfoblástica aguda e o linfoma de Hodgkin, declarou “guerra ao cancro”. Desde então, registaram-se progressos contínuos no recurso à quimioterapia, cirurgia e radioterapia para o tratamento e cura de um número cada vez maior de doentes oncológicos. No entanto, nos países com rendimentos baixos e médios, onde reside actualmente a maioria dos doentes oncológicos, o acesso a tais progressos capazes de salvar vidas continua a ser difícil.

Nos EUA, mais de 80% das pessoas que sofrem de cancro da mama são sobreviventes de longo prazo, e a taxa de sobrevivência das crianças com cancro é superior a 80%. Durante os cerca de 40 anos em que fui oncologista na Universidade de Harvard, tratei milhares de doentes que teriam pouca probabilidade de sobreviver se não fossem sujeitos a quimioterapia. Muitos dos doentes que receberam tratamento em 1970 estão actualmente vivos e bem de saúde; os seus filhos já são adultos activos.

No entanto, apenas quando comecei a trabalhar no Ruanda, em 2011, pude reconhecer plenamente o poder das ferramentas que tinha à minha disposição, ao confirmar o impacto da sua inexistência. Entrar no serviço de oncologia pediátrica do hospital central de referência da rede pública em Kigali era como voltar atrás no tempo. Os resultados verificados entre as crianças ruandesas com tumor de Wilms, uma forma de cancro do rim que raramente atinge os adultos, espelhavam os resultados registados nos EUA há 80 anos, antes de estarem disponíveis os medicamentos que hoje permitem a sobrevivência de mais de 90% das crianças norte-americanas diagnosticadas.

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