Combattere il Konzo

EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN – Troppe malattie che è possibile prevenire, dall'AIDS alla febbre gialla, affliggono da lungo tempo l’Africa sub-sahariana. Ma riuscire a sradicarle richiede la comprensione della malattia in questione, denaro, istruzione, sostegno del governo, pianificazione, e, non ultimo, l'interesse della comunità di riferimento e del resto del mondo a risolvere il problema.

Si consideri una malattia prevenibile di cui la maggior parte delle persone non ha mai sentito parlare: il Konzo, un disturbo permanente, irreversibile, che colpisce il neurone motorio superiore, comune nelle zone rurali dell'Africa sub-sahariana che hanno le varietà amare della pianta manioca come coltura principale. Il Konzo si sviluppa quando i tuberi di manioca non sono adeguatamente preparati prima del consumo, che di solito richiede di lasciarli in ammollo fino a che non fermentano e l'essiccazione al sole per consentire la decomposizione dei composti cianogenici. Centinaia o migliaia di persone in villaggio e nelle sue zone limitrofe possono essere colpiti ad ogni focolaio.

Il Konzo è particolarmente comune nella Repubblica democratica del Congo, nella Repubblica Centrafricana, in Mozambico ed in Tanzania, e spesso segue periodi di siccità o di conflitti, quando il cibo scarseggia. Le donne ed i bambini sono i più colpiti, soprattutto durante i periodi di crisi economica, quando hanno meno accesso alla carne, ai fagioli ed alle altre fonti di aminoacidi solforati necessarie al il fegato per disintossicarsi dal cianuro che hanno nel corpo.

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