Der Kampf gegen Konzo

EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN – Seit langer Zeit schon wird das Afrika südlich der Sahara von zu vielen vermeidbaren Krankheiten heimgesucht, von AIDS bis hin zu Gelbfieber. Deren Ausrottung aber erfordert genaue Kenntnis der jeweiligen Krankheit, Geld, Ausbildung, Unterstützung durch die Regierung, Planung, und nicht zuletzt ein Interesse der örtlichen Gesellschaft und der weiteren Welt an der Lösung des Problems.

<><>Betrachten wir eine vermeidbare Krankheit, von der die meisten Menschen noch nie etwas gehört haben: Konzo, eine dauerhafte, unumkehrbare Schädigung des ersten Motoneurons, die durch die bitteren Varianten des Grundnahrungsmittels Cassava ausgelöst wird, kommt in ländlichen Gegenden Schwarzafrikas vor. Konzo tritt auf, wenn die Cassava-Knollen vor dem Konsum nicht richtig vorbereitet werden. Damit sich die Blausäurebestandteile zersetzen, müssen sie fermentiert und in der Sonne getrocknet werden. Von jedem Ausbruch können hunderttausende Menschen in dörflichen Regionen betroffen sein.

Konzo ist insbesondere in der Demokratischen Republik Kongo, der Zentralafrikanischen Republik, in Mosambik und in Tansania verbreitet, und tritt oft nach Dürren oder Konflikten auf, wenn die Nahrung knapp ist. Am meisten sind Frauen und Kinder betroffen, insbesondere während wirtschaftlicher Krisen, wenn die Versorgung mit Fleisch, Bohnen oder anderen Quellen schwefliger Aminosäuren, die die Leber für den Abbau von Zyaniden im Körper benötigt, am schlechtesten ist.

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