Combater o konzo

EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN – Muitas doenças evitáveis, desde a SIDA até à febre-amarela, há muito que afligem a África Subsaariana. Mas erradicá-las requer uma compreensão da doença a nível de debates, dinheiro, educação, apoio governamental, planeamento e, não menos importante, um interesse por parte da comunidade e do mundo para resolverem o problema.

Vejamos o exemplo de uma doença evitável que a maioria das pessoas nunca ouviu falar: o konzo, um distúrbio permanente e irreversível do neurónio motor superior, comum nas áreas rurais da África Subsaariana que dependem das variedades da mandioca amarga como alimento de base. O konzo ocorre quando as raízes de mandioca não estão devidamente tratadas antes de serem consumidas, algo que geralmente requer colocá-las de molho até fermentarem e depois secá-las ao sol para permitir a quebra de compostos cianogénicos. Centenas ou milhares de pessoas numa zona rural podem ser afectadas com cada surto.

O konzo é especialmente comum na República Democrática do Congo, na República Centro-Africana, em Moçambique e na Tanzânia, e muitas vezes surge após secas ou conflitos, quando os alimentos são escassos. As mulheres e as crianças são as mais afectadas, especialmente em tempos de dificuldades económicas, quando têm menos acesso à carne, ao feijão e a outras fontes de aminoácidos sulfurados necessárias para o fígado desintoxicar o cianeto no corpo.

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