Ciudadanos versus la extrema pobreza

Hace veinte años, un movimiento de origen popular encabezado por Rotary International, una organización voluntaria con alrededor de 1,2 millón de socios en más de 200 países, decidió atacar. A mediados de los 80, había más de 300.000 casos de polio por año en todo el mundo, a pesar de la eliminación prácticamente total de la enfermedad en los países más ricos, donde la vacunación era de rutina. Rotary asumió el desafío de hacerle llegar vacunas a los pobres, en regiones con sistemas de salud pública deficientes o inexistentes. Los rotarianos soñaban no sólo con reducir la cantidad de casos de polio, sino con erradicar por completo la enfermedad. Hoy, este objetivo está al alcance de la mano.

En lugar de esperar a que los políticos emprendieran la lucha contra la polio, los rotarianos tomaron la delantera. Pocos años después, la Organización Mundial de la Salud, y luego otros organismos internacionales y países donantes, se unieron a la causa y crearon una coalición de organizaciones oficiales y privadas que hoy respaldan la visión de Rotary. Para 2006, la cantidad de casos de polio se había reducido drásticamente, muy por debajo de 3.000 casos por año.

La erradicación total está a tiro, pero sigue resultando evasiva ya que, en los últimos años, estallaron pequeños brotes en diferentes países. En algunos casos, como en el norte de Nigeria, la resistencia social a la vacuna impidió una cobertura adecuada de la población. En la India, Pakistán y Afganistán aún persisten bolsones de transmisión de polio. En otros países, los viajeros provenientes de regiones donde la polio todavía no ha sido eliminada reintrodujeron esporádicamente la enfermedad. Y, en algunos casos raros, la vacuna misma falló y derivó en una infección.

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