El ébola y la innovación

BOSTON – No solo vidas se perdieron en la presente crisis del ébola. En el debate público reciente sobre cómo combatir el virus, el rigor metódico de la ciencia y la medicina dio paso a la política de la exageración y a la histeria de la gente. Para enfrentar el brote actual se necesitan políticas públicas serias y fundamentadas, de eso no hay duda. Pero también es importante aprovechar las lecciones de la epidemia y asegurar que otras enfermedades nos encuentren preparados.

Hay dos grandes lecciones que podemos extraer de este brote de ébola. La primera es que nunca hay que dejar de fortalecer todo el sistema sanitario de un país por concentrarse en combatir una sola enfermedad. Aunque esa dolencia en particular se pueda enfrentar con la ayuda de ONG y gobiernos extranjeros, sin un sistema de salud sólido el país se encontrará desarmado ante un brote inesperado de otra enfermedad.

Por ejemplo, Liberia redujo la prevalencia de malaria en niños de menos de cinco años de edad del 66%, en 2005, a menos del 32% en 2011. Pero cuando este año el virus del ébola entró al país desde la vecina Guinea, en poco tiempo la infraestructura sanitaria del país se vio desbordada. Más de dos mil liberianos murieron de ébola, y el brote todavía no está contenido. Como Liberia, otros países que no fortalezcan todo el sistema sanitario, por más buen desempeño que tengan en alguna área (por ejemplo, la lucha contra el ébola), aún pueden estar expuestos a mortandades y trastornos económicos en el largo plazo.

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