La paradoja de la enfermedad no contagiosa

WELLINGTON.– Se atribuye a Albert Einstein la frase «todo debe hacerse tan simple como sea posible, pero no más que eso». Sin embargo, el debate actual sobre la epidemia de enfermedades no contagiosas (ENC: enfermedades crónicas como los problemas cardíacos, accidentes cerebrovasculares, diabetes y cáncer) ha ignorado este consejo. Los responsables de diseñar las políticas han simplificado excesivamente el desafío centrándose en la creciente prevalencia de las ENC –la mera cantidad de personas enfermas– lo cual, para mí, no es realmente el problema.

Es cierto, en la mayoría de las regiones del mundo se ve un aumento en la prevalencia de las ENC –en parte porque como las muertes por enfermedades infecciosas y heridas graves disminuyen, la gente vive más para desarrollar las ENC. Pero estas enfermedades también aumentan por otros motivos demográficos y epidemiológicos –y entender esto tiene repercusiones sobre la política sanitaria, e incluso sobre el desarrollo económico.

En gran parte del mundo, las poblaciones aumentan y envejecen simultáneamente. La mayoría de las ENC acusan un aumento en la prevalencia junto con la edad –una consecuencia de la exposición acumulativa a los factores de riesgo (incluidos los comportamientos humanos nocivos para la salud, como el uso del tabaco, y los factores de riesgo biológicos, como la hipertensión) a lo largo de la vida. Manteniendo todo lo demás constante, poblaciones más numerosas y envejecidas implican más personas con ENC.

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