El ebola en Estados Unidos

NUEVA YORK – Antes de que Thomas Eric Duncan llevara el ebola a los Estados Unidos, se veía ampliamente a la enfermedad como una pestilencia exótica que atañía sobre todo a la empobrecida África occidental, y a aquellos que se atrevían a ir de voluntarios a ese lugar. Asimismo, la transmisión de la enfermedad a dos enfermeras que atendían a Duncan –debido tal vez a numerosas faltas al protocolo médico– se sigue muy de cerca para ver la preparación de los Estados Unidos ante un posible brote. Incluso el presidente, Barack Obama, anunció la semana pasada el nombramiento de un “zar del ebola” a fin de manejar la detección, aislamiento y control del virus en dicho país.

Expertos de salud pública y médica afirman al público que no hay que temer. El Centro de Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC, por sus siglas en inglés) y otras agencias de salud estuvieron trabajando minuciosamente entre bambalinas para rastrear cualquier persona que pudiera haber estado en contacto con Duncan y poner en cuarentena a aquellos que podrían transmitir la enfermedad. Se pensaba que el contagio en Estados Unidos era casi imposible debido a la solidez del sistema de salud.

Sin embargo, como lo han mostrado los eventos recientes, no se debe tomar por sentado la solidez de las agencias de salud. De hecho, a lo largo de la última década el gobierno ha recortado el presupuesto de varias agencias importantes de salud, incluidos los Institutos Nacionales de Salud (NIH, por sus siglas en inglés), los departamentos locales y estatales de salud y la CDC. Por ejemplo, entre 2005 y 2012, el CDC perdió 17% de su financiamiento; además, funcionarios informaron recientemente que los fondos asignados a las emergencias de salud relacionadas con el ebola son de mil millones de dólares, es decir, menos que en 2003.

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