Vacunas: bendiciones para toda la vida

CIUDAD DEL CABO – Todos soñamos con un mundo en que nuestros hijos y nietos crezcan sin la amenaza de la polio y otras enfermedades prevenibles. Sin embargo, a diferencia de la mayoría de los sueños, este se puede hacer realidad. A lo largo de mi vida he tenido la suerte de ser testigo del extraordinario efecto de las vacunas en la protección de los niños contra la enfermedad y la muerte, especialmente en el mundo en desarrollo.

Las vacunas siempre han tenido un especial significado para mí. De niño en Sudáfrica, casi morí a causa de la polio. En ese entonces, a principios de los años 30, no había vacuna para esta enfermedad, muy infecciosa. Con buenas razones, los padres en general sentían terror de que el poliovirus llegara a sus puertas, como la plaga, afectando a su hijo o hija y causando una parálisis irreversible en cosa de horas o, peor aún, la muerte en unos pocos días.

Los doctores dijeron a mis padres que poco más podía hacerse, así es que se prepararon para mi funeral. Afortunadamente me recuperé, excepto por el uso de mi mano derecha. He podido vivir una existencia maravillosa, pero la parálisis en mi mano es un recordatorio diario de por qué debemos buscar urgentemente la erradicación de la polio y asegurarnos de que todos los niños tengan acceso a las vacunas que necesitan.

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