La salud en época de ébola

NUEVA YORK – En el África subsahariana, todo niño con fiebre debe recibir atención médica inmediata para prevenir la muerte por paludismo o neumonía, pero, como el pánico por la propagación del ébola está cundiendo en Liberia –además de en Sierra Leona, Guinea y Nigeria–, se está relacionando cada vez más a los clínicos y las instalaciones de atención de salud con la exposición a la enfermedad. Para velar por que sigan acudiendo a recibir atención cuando la necesiten, son necesarias mejoras en los dispensarios de primera línea e inversión en la contratación de agentes de salud comunitarios para que lleguen hasta las personas vulnerables en sus hogares.

Desde luego, las deficiencias del sistema de atención de salud de Liberia precedieron  en mucho tiempo al brote de ébola, pues el 20 por ciento, aproximadamente, de los cuatro millones de ciudadanos carecen de acceso a servicios adecuados. El Acuerdo General de Paz de Accra de 2003 puede haber puesto fin a años de guerra civil, pero dejó el país con sólo cincuenta y un médicos y diezmó las infraestructuras.

En vista de los poquísimos profesionales competentes en materia de asistencia de salud con que se cuenta, la reparación del sistema de atención de salud requiere algo más que la construcción de nuevos hospitales y dispensarios en todas las zonas rurales de Liberia densamente pobladas por bosques de selva pluvial. Por fortuna, el Gobierno, como otros del África subsahariana, reconoce la necesidad de invertir en la capacitación de agentes de salud comunitarios en las zonas rurales para tratar la diarrea, la neumonía y el paludismo: las tres causas más importantes de muerte de niños menores de cinco años de edad.

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