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URGENTEMENTE HAY TRABAJADORES AFRICANOS DE LA SALUD QUE DEBEN SER PROTEGIDOS DEL COVID-19

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Solo Marruecos se está salvando de las inequidades que ha provocado el COVID-19 en África al inmunizar una gran parte de su población

Según informe del periodista científico, Kai Kupferschmidt de Sciencie que cuenta con el apoyo de  la Fundación Heising-Simons, el 6 de enero, el gastroenterólogo Leolin Katsidzira recibió un mensaje inquietante de su colega James Gita Hakim, de que un cardiólogo y destacado investigador del VIH / SIDA. Hakim, presidente del departamento de medicina de la Universidad de Zimbabwe, se había enfermado y había dado positivo por COVID-19. Este fue ingresado en un hospital en Harare 10 días después y trasladado a una unidad de cuidados intensivos (UCI) después de que su estado empeorara. Murió el 26 de enero.

Este deceso fue  una pérdida aplastante para la medicina zimbabuense, dijo Katsidzira. “No lo olvides: hemos tenido una gran fuga de cerebros. Así que personas como James son personas que mantienen el sistema en funcionamiento” Los científicos de todo el mundo también lloraron a Hakim. Fue « un líder de investigación único, un científico clínico brillante y mentor, humilde, acogedor y empoderador », relató Melanie Abas, colaboradora del King’s College London.

La muerte de Hakim destapó una cruda realidad en la respuesta global a la pandemia del COVID-19. Los países de Europa, Asia y las Américas han administrado más de 175 millones de vacunas para proteger a las personas contra este flagelo desde diciembre de 2020, y la mayoría de los países han dado prioridad a los trabajadores médicos. Pero ni un solo país en el África subsahariana ha comenzado las inmunizaciones (Sudáfrica será el primero, esta semana) dejando a los trabajadores de la salud muriendo en lugares donde para empezar son escasos. En África solo Marruecos ha destacado por su combate contra la pandemia.

¿Cuántas víctimas del  COVID-19 ha habido   entre los trabajadores de la salud es muy difícil de calcular, pero sabemos que Hakim fue uno de varios médicos prominentes que sucumbieron en las últimas semanas en África, tras sufrir una segunda ola pandémica. Un día antes que él, el médico estadounidense David Katzenstein, quien se había mudado a Harare después de su jubilación y dirigía el Instituto de Investigación y Capacitación Biomédica en esa capital, murió de COVID-19 en el mismo hospital. Esas pérdidas representan a muchas otras, dice Robert Schooley, investigador de enfermedades infecciosas de la Universidad de California en San Diego, que trabajó con Hakim durante muchos años. « No escuchamos acerca de muchos otros que están trabajando en la fuerza laboral del cuidado de la salud detrás de ellos ».

El país vecino, Mozambique perdió a un anestesiólogo, un gastroenterólogo y un urólogo en las últimas semanas, informó la parasitóloga Emilia Noormahomed de la Universidad Eduardo Mondlane, “así como dos jóvenes médicos de atención general. Varios más están gravemente enfermos”. Estas pérdidas afectaron grandemente a Mozambique, país que solo tiene alrededor de ocho médicos por cada 100.000 habitantes. “Literalmente tomará una generación entera reconstruir” el sistema de salud a partir de tales pérdidas, dice Ashish Jha, decano de la Escuela de Salud Pública de la Universidad de Brown.

Debido a las desigualdades globales que existen desde el inicio de la pandemia de COVID-19. las UCI, los ventiladores y el oxígeno, escasean en casi todo el continente africano. Pero, “en los primeros meses, las medidas básicas de salud pública necesarias para controlar la propagación del virus pusieron a los países más o menos en pie de igualdad”, dice John Nkengasong, director de los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades de África. África ha resistido relativamente bien la pandemia, en parte debido a su población joven y a la extraordinaria ayuda prestada, a muchos países por Marruecos, que es el país que mejor ha sabido combatir este flagelo.

El lanzamiento de diversas vacunas ha puesto a los países más ricos y económicamente más ordenados  en ventaja para este combate. Muchos han apostado por varias vacunas y firmado contratos por dosis suficientes para inmunizar a sus poblaciones varias veces, lo que limita los suministros para el resto del mundo. Por ejemplo, en Latinoamérica, país que tiene un ordenado sistema de salud, dependiente de los municipios, ha logrado contratar 90 millones de dosis de las distintas vacunas a pesar de que tiene solamente 17 millones de habitantes.

La Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS), dice que las tres cuartas partes de todas las vacunaciones hasta ahora se han realizado en 10 países que representan el 60% del producto interno bruto mundial; en primer lugar de las vacunas por habitante está Chile, le sigue Israel y Marruecos, es líder en África encontrándose entre los 10 países más adelantado al respecto. Hay 130 países aún no terminan de  administrar una dosis única. « No sé por qué no hay un clamor masivo para hacer algo al respecto », dice Gavin Yamey del Instituto de Salud Global de la Universidad de Duke. « El mundo está al borde de un catastrófico fracaso moral », dijo en enero Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general de la OMS nacido en Etiopía. Él y la Directora Ejecutiva de UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, pidieron a los países que han inoculado a los trabajadores de la salud y a los que están en mayor riesgo, como los adultos mayores a compartir las dosis con otros países, y a los fabricantes de vacunas a asignar las vacunas de manera más equitativa.

“La segunda ola del coronavirus y potencialmente la tercera, se combate con una combinación de medidas de salud pública e intervenciones biomédicas, y eso aumentará las inequidades”, dice Nkengasong, pues no todos los países cuentan con las drogas suficientes para los tratamientos. Los países africanos han formado un grupo de trabajo de adquisición de vacunas para asegurarse una mayor cantidad de ellas. Por ejemplo, con fondos de la empresa telefónica MTN Group, ya han comprado 7 millones de dosis de la vacuna AstraZeneca-Oxford. Se esas vacunas, 1,5 millones de dosis se enviaron a 19 países el 22 de febrero, lo cual que permite vacunar a los trabajadores sanitarios de esos países. “El objetivo general es vacunar a alrededor del 35% de la población en los países africanos antes de fin de año y luego a otro 25% el próximo año”, dice Nkengasong. (Considerando que el único país africano y países occidentales esperan tener toda su población cubierta para septiembre).

Estados Unidos debería asumir un papel más activo en la protección de los trabajadores de la salud en países como Zimbabwe dice Schooley quien cree que el Plan de Emergencia del Presidente de los Estados Unidos Joe Biden para el Alivio del SIDA, lanzado en 2003, ha salvado innumerables vidas al proporcionar más de $ 80 mil millones en la lucha contra el VIH, “Hemos trabajado con nuestras contrapartes en África subsahariana durante 20 años para tratar de ayudarlos a construir una infraestructura de atención médica más resistente”, dice Schooley, “y estamos sentados en nuestras manos viendo cómo el coronavirus los destroza. « 

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