Diagnósticos para la salud global

CORVALLIS, OREGON – En los países desarrollados la mayoría de las personas dan por hecho que cuando se enfermen tendrán acceso a un diagnóstico y tratamiento oportunos. En efecto, si bien el proceso de diagnóstico –que en general supone enviar una muestra de sangre, orina o tejido a un laboratorio para analizarla– puede ser pesado y oneroso, los servicios de salud y laboratorios especializados son de amplio alcance. En consecuencia, la carga de las enfermedades en el mundo desarrollado ha disminuido sustancialmente.

En contraste, en el mundo en desarrollo millones de personas mueren cada año por enfermedades que son tratables, como la malaria, debido a la falta de laboratorios especializados y pruebas de diagnóstico alternativas. Sin embargo, se puede tener esperanza: avances en el campo de la microfluidica tienen el potencial de transformar los servicios de salud porque permiten llevar el sistema de pruebas de “norma de oro” basado en el laboratorio al lugar de atención (POC, por sus siglas en inglés).

Una prueba POC que dé resultados precisos y oportunos ofrecería a poblaciones sin servicios adecuados acceso a pruebas de diagnóstico, lo que permitiría un tratamiento temprano y ayudaría a evitar un tratamiento inadecuado (tratar otra enfermedad con síntomas similares). Sin embargo, a fin de explotar su potencial, en las pruebas POC se debe tomar en cuenta una amplia gama de factores que afectan las aplicaciones de servicios de salud.

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