La respuesta al ébola

NUEVA YORK – La horrible epidemia de ébola en al menos cuatro países del oeste africano (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leona, y Nigeria) no solo requiere una respuesta de emergencia para detener el brote, es además un llamado a repensar algunos supuestos básicos sobre la salud pública mundial. Vivimos en una era de enfermedades infecciosas que aparecen, reaparecen y pueden diseminarse rápidamente a través de las redes mundiales. Necesitamos entonces un sistema mundial acorde a esta realidad para el control de las enfermedades. Afortunadamente, está a nuestro alcance si invertimos adecuadamente.

La del ébola es la última de muchas epidemias recientes, que también incluyen al sida, el SARS, y las gripes H1N1 y H7N9, entre otros. El sida es el más mortal de estos asesinos: se ha cobrado casi 36 millones de vidas desde 1981.

Por supuesto, puede haber epidemias mayores y más repentinas, como la de influenza durante la Primera Guerra Mundial, en 1918, que segó entre 50 y 100 millones de vidas (muchas más que la propia guerra). Y si bien el brote de SARS de 2003 fue contenido y causó menos de 1000 muertes, la enfermedad estuvo a punto de perturbar profundamente a muchas economías del este asiático, incluida la china.

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