Polio vaccination Pacific Press/Getty Images

Cuando el populismo puede matar

LONDRES – Estos últimos años, ha aparecido en algunos lugares (tanto en países en desarrollo como desarrollados) un infundado escepticismo en relación con las vacunas, que se alza como uno de los más serios obstáculos al avance mundial en salud pública y una de las razones principales por las que persisten algunas enfermedades infecciosas erradicables.

Por ejemplo, en partes de Afganistán, Pakistán y Nigeria que cayeron bajo poder de milicias islamistas, aumentó la resistencia a las vacunas y eso afectó la campaña para la erradicación mundial de la poliomielitis. Y muchos países de altos ingresos sufrieron en años recientes brotes de sarampión, como consecuencia de temores suscitados por la publicación en 1998 de un artículo fraudulento sobre las vacunas en la revista médica británica The Lancet.

Más cerca en el tiempo, también en el sur de Europa creció el escepticismo sobre la seguridad y eficacia de las vacunas. Según un estudio de 2016, Grecia ya está entre los diez países del mundo donde menos se confía en la seguridad de las vacunas. Y como señaló el ministro griego de salud, Andreas Xanthos, los profesionales médicos se encuentran cada vez más con padres que tienen miedo de vacunar a sus hijos.

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