Combattre la maladie du konzo

EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN – L’Afrique subsaharienne a subi trop de maladies curables allant du sida à la fièvre jaune. Mais pour les éradiquer, il faudrait mieux comprendre les mécanismes de cette maladie par des fonds, des séances d’information, de la planification et, plus important encore, un intérêt de la communauté et du monde entier à régler le problème.

Prenons une maladie curable comme le konzo dont la plupart des gens n’ont jamais entendu parler : un trouble neurologique irréversible affectant la partie supérieure du corps répandue dans les zones rurales de l’Afrique subsaharienne dont la principale récolte est constituée par des variétés amères de manioc. Le konzo se produit lorsque les tubercules de maniocs ne sont pas préparés adéquatement avant consommation, ces racines doivent être trempées préalablement jusqu’à la fermentation pour être ensuite séchées au soleil afin de permettre la décomposition des composants cyanogéniques. Des centaines ou des milliers d’habitants d’une région villageoise peuvent être touchés à chaque épidémie.

La maladie du konzo est particulièrement répandue dans la République démocratique du Congo, la République centrafricaine, le Mozambique et la Tanzanie. Il succède souvent à des périodes de sécheresse ou à des conflits où la nourriture se fait rare. Les femmes et les enfants sont les plus affectés, particulièrement dans des périodes de crise économique avec un accès réduit à la viande, aux haricots et à d’autres sources d’acides aminés soufrés nécessaires pour évacuer les cyanures de l’organisme.

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