La lucha contra el konzo

EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN – Demasiadas enfermedades prevenibles, que van desde el SIDA hasta la fiebre amarilla, han afectado desde hace ya mucho tiempo atrás al África subsahariana. No obstante, para erradicarlas se requiere de una comprensión de la enfermedad en cuestión, de dinero, educación,  apoyo gubernamental, planificación, y, finalmente pero no por ello es menos importante, se requiere que la comunidad y el mundo en general tengan interés en la solución del problema.

Considere la posibilidad de una enfermedad prevenible, sobre la cual la mayoría de las personas no ha oído hablar nunca antes: Konzo, un trastorno de la neurona motora superior que es irreversible y permanente, un trastorno común en las zonas rurales de África subsahariana cuya alimentación básica depende de una variedad amarga de la planta de yuca.  El konzo se contrae cuando los tubérculos de la yuca no se preparan adecuadamente antes de su consumo, lo que por lo general requiere de su remojo hasta que se fermenten y de su posterior secado al sol para permitir la descomposición de  los compuestos cianogénicos. Cientos o miles de personas en la zona de una villa pueden verse afectados con cada brote.

El konzo es especialmente común en la República Democrática del Congo, la República Centroafricana, Mozambique y Tanzania, y con frecuencia se presenta después de las sequías o conflictos, que son períodos en los que los alimentos escasean. Las mujeres y los niños son los más afectados, sobre todo durante tiempos de dificultades económicas, en los que ellos tienen menos acceso a alimentos como la carne, los frijoles y otras fuentes de aminoácidos azufrados que son necesarias para que el hígado desintoxique el cianuro en el cuerpo.

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