Marginalizing Malaria

SAN FRANCISCO – El pasado otoño (boreal), Bill y Melinda Gates estremecieron a la comunidad sanitaria global cuando anunciaron el objetivo audaz de erradicar la malaria humana de la faz del planeta. Menos que eso, insistieron, no sería suficiente.

De inmediato estalló un debate acalorado, en el que algunos profesionales experimentados cuestionaron la posibilidad de semejante objetivo. Estos escépticos apuntaron al primer Programa de Erradicación Global, un esfuerzo ambicioso que se realizó en los años 1950 para erradicar la malaria de muchas zonas del mundo (Africa quedó excluida). A pesar del progreso inicial, los programas de erradicación sucumbieron cuando donantes, gobiernos y poblaciones se cansaron y viraron su atención a otras áreas, permitiendo que la malaria resurgiera a niveles devastadores.

Nadie está sugiriendo un retorno a las fallidas estrategias del primer programa de erradicación. La Fundación Gates comenzó, con criterio, a facilitar consultas con científicos prominentes sobre cómo acelerar el desarrollo de nuevas herramientas potentes, y ya está financiando el desarrollo de una vacuna, así como de nuevos medicamentos y diagnósticos. Al mismo tiempo, la Roll Back Malaria Partnership recientemente lanzó un Plan de Negocios Global a largo plazo para unificar las acciones de la comunidad afectada por la malaria y alentar una inversión adicional. Todos coinciden en que la erradicación está a décadas de distancia.

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