Los últimos bastiones de la poliomielitis

LAGOS – Cuando era niño y vivía en Kano, en el norte de Nigeria, mi maestro de Corán estaba paralizado por completo de la cintura para abajo. Un muchacho con quien crecí no podía usar sus piernas. Fui testigo de esto hace 50 años, y en aquel entonces no sabía que ellos estaban paralizados debido a la poliomielitis. Este tipo de cosas eran sencillamente algo natural en la vida de Nigeria. En ese momento, nunca me imaginé que todo ese daño se hubiese evitado con una vacuna de fácil administración – es decir, si estas personas hubiesen sido inmunizadas, se hubiese evitado la parálisis.

En las seis décadas que transcurrieron desde que se creó la primera vacuna contra la poliomielitis, se ha erradicado la enfermedad en la mayoría de los países de todo el mundo. Incluso países que enfrentan importantes obstáculos – como por ejemplo en la India, que tiene una población de 1,2 miles de millones de personas, donde la pobreza está desenfrenada y la infraestructura es inadecuada – se han librado de la poliomielitis.

Nigeria es uno de los tres únicos países – junto con Afganistán y Pakistán – que continúa siendo asolado por la poliomielitis. Kano es uno de los pocos lugares en el mundo donde se registraron tres cepas distintas de la enfermedad en el año 2012.

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