Drie mondiale gezondheidsrisico’s

SAN FRANCISCO – De tragische uitbraak van Ebola in West-Afrika heeft de noodzaak om de gezondheidszorg op zowel nationaal als mondiaal niveau te versterken nog eens benadrukt. Maar alhoewel Ebola de aandacht van de wereld op systematische tekortkomingen heeft gevestigd, zou het einddoel de bestrijding van hardnekkige epidemieën die wereldwijd stilletjes dood en verderf zaaien moeten zijn.

Ebola heeft zonder twijfel vreselijk lijden veroorzaakt. Maar het is niet de eerste – of de meest destructieve – pandemie die de wereld gekend heeft. De dodelijkste ziekte uit de geschiedenis van de mensheid is de facto Pokken; totdat Edward Jenner er in 1796 een vaccin tegen ontwikkelde was het de voornaamste doodsoorzaak in Europa. De ziekte eiste een geschatte 300-500 miljoen levens alvorens in 1980 te worden uitgeroeid.

De pestepidemie in de 14e eeuw eiste 75-100 miljoen levens; meer dan de helft van de Europese bevolking. Tijdens de Spaanse griep van 1918 kwamen er in enkele maanden bijna 75 miljoen mensen om, oftewel 3-5 % van de wereldbevolking en meer dan twee keer het aantal slachtoffers van de hele Eerste Wereldoorlog.

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