Cómo corregir los errores de la lepra

TOKIO – En su décimo quinta sesión, que culminó a principios de octubre, el Consejo de Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas adoptó una resolución que alienta a los gobiernos a eliminar la discriminación contra la gente afectada por la lepra –y sus familiares-. En mi carácter de embajador de Buena Voluntad de la Organización Mundial de la Salud para la Eliminación de la Lepra, durante mucho tiempo hice campaña para llegar a este resultado.

La lepra es una de las enfermedades más antiguas del mundo. Tiene una dimensión física, pero también componentes sociales y psicológicos. Durante gran parte de su larga historia, no hubo una cura conocida. Fue recién en la última parte del siglo XX que se dispuso de una quimioterapia verdaderamente efectiva. Desde la introducción de la terapia de drogas múltiples a principios de los años 1980, se curaron aproximadamente 16 millones de personas en todo el mundo. Prácticamente en todos los países del mundo, la lepra ya no es considerada un problema de salud pública.

Descubierta a tiempo y encarada prontamente, la lepra no tiene por qué dejar rastros. Sólo cuando la enfermedad no se trata el daño causado a los nervios periféricos conduce a la pérdida de sensación e invita a las úlceras y las heridas. Si no se la controla, la lepra desfigura y puede causar una discapacidad permanente.

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