women waiting at clinic The Washington Post/Getty Images

Demasiadas clínicas de salud perjudican a los países en desarrollo

FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONA – Donantes como el Banco Mundial y la Organización Mundial de la Salud suelen instar a los países en desarrollo a invertir en los sistemas nacionales de salud. Pero si bien apresurarse a construir clínicas y otras instalaciones médicas inclusive en las regiones más alejadas puede parecer una estrategia clara para asegurar la cobertura de salud universal, no ha resultado así.

La reciente epidemia de ébola en África occidental resaltó la necesidad urgente de sistemas de atención médica más fuertes, más eficientes y más resilientes en los países en desarrollo. Pero cuando los países se apresuran a construir más clínicas, las instalaciones resultantes tienden a construirse rápidamente y carecen del equipamiento, los suministros y el personal necesarios para ofrecer servicios vitales de salud de manera efectiva.

En mis frecuentes visitas a zonas rurales en Sierra Leona, el lugar donde nací, he visto unas cuantas instalaciones de salud de las cuales las comunidades podían prescindir. Una instalación recientemente refaccionada en Masunthu, por ejemplo, tenía equipamiento escaso y de las canillas no salía agua. Las instalaciones en las vecinas Maselleh y Katherie tenían grietas en las paredes, goteras en los techos y tan pocas alacenas que suministros como jeringas y registros médicos tenían que estar apilados en el piso.

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