malaria vaccine Steve Ringman/ZumaPress

¿El fin de la malaria?

WASHINGTON, DC – Para todos aquellos que están en el frente de la lucha contra la malaria, la noticia del desarrollo de una vacuna contra los parásitos de esta enfermedad es un acontecimiento emocionante. La malaria fue la causa de muerte de 584,000 personas en 2013, casi 90% de ellas en África Subsahariana; y alrededor de 78% de sus víctimas son niños menores de cinco años. En los 97 países donde la malaria es endémica, provoca daños serios a la productividad económica de los que menos pueden permitírselo: los pobres que tienen acceso limitado a tratamientos y atención médica.

En julio, la Agencia de regulación de medicina humana de la Unión Europea (Agencia Europea de Medicamentos) aprobó el uso de la RTS,S –vacuna conocida también por su nombre comercial, Mosquirix– para atender a niños de entre seis semanas y diecisiete meses de edad. La comunidad mundial de salud ha reconocido desde hace mucho la importancia de una vacuna para reducir la carga que representa la enfermedad, y se espera en noviembre un anuncio de parte de la Organización Mundial de la Salud sobre el uso de Mosquirix en países donde la malaria es endémica. Todo esto después de treinta años difíciles en los que investigadores de la compañía farmacéutica GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) empezaron a buscar la vacuna.

La aprobación es un paso significativo en la dirección correcta para prevenir y controlar la malaria. También es un testimonio del perseverante poder de la filantropía social, las asociaciones y las colaboraciones internacionales. Sin embargo, quedan por resolver las cuestiones sobre el despliegue de la vacuna –y su integración en los sistemas de salud de algunos de los países más pobres del mundo.

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