News / Health

Tools to Fight Infectious Diseases Rely on Public Health Programs

Tools to Fight Infectious Diseases Depend on Public Health Programsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Carol Pearson
December 15, 2012 3:15 AM
Epidemics have sickened and killed millions of people throughout history. HIV/AIDS has claimed 25 million lives since it was first identified in 1981. It's one of the new infectious diseases, but much older diseases still cause countless deaths and suffering: cholera, yellow fever, tuberculosis and malaria, to name a few. VOA's Carol Pearson looks at what is being done to save lives and contain both the old and the newly emerging infectious diseases.
Tools to Fight Infectious Diseases Depend on Public Health Programs
Carol Pearson
Epidemics have sickened and killed millions of people throughout history. HIV/AIDS has claimed 25 million lives since it was first identified in 1981. It's one of the new infectious diseases, but much older diseases still cause countless deaths and suffering: cholera, yellow fever, tuberculosis and malaria, to name a few.

A simple bite from a mosquito can end someone's life or change it forever. A sneeze, a handshake or even sharing of a desk can do the same thing. That's how H1N1 - or swine flu - spread around the world a few years ago. Infectious diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis are among the leading causes of death globally. Diarrheal diseases like cholera kill more than 100,000 people every year. Haiti and the Dominican Republic say they need $2 billion to fight the cholera epidemic that first erupted in 2010. Since then, it has killed nearly 8,000 people and sickened more than half a million.

At a Washington symposium, leading U.S. health experts met to discuss the challenge of confronting persistent and newly-emerging infectious diseases. Dr. Anthony Fauci, with the National Institutes of Health, said most of these diseases result from the fact that as human populations grow, people come into closer contact with animals.

"When you have encroachment upon the environment, and you put humans in greater contact with animals that they would not have been in contact with, often that is one of, not the only, but one of the major contributors to the issue of emerging infectious diseases," said Fauci.

New threats, better tools

New infectious diseases also emerge when bacteria or viruses mutate and no longer respond to drugs that once killed them. An example is drug-resistant tuberculosis. Other factors include climate change or the expanded habitat of an infectious agent.  Dengue is now found in half the countries of the world. It's caused by a bite from a mosquito infected with the virus.

While these threats are great, we now have better tools to fight these diseases, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, head of the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

"We’ve got new technology, we’ve got better communication, we’ve got better lab work, more people who are trained," he said.

Vaccines prove crucial

This means less time elapses between the discovery of a new disease, identifying its genetic makeup and developing drugs or a vaccine to protect against it.

"Immunization is really one of the great discoveries of the past century. Today’s vaccines prevent about three million deaths every single year. And the vaccines that are being rolled out can prevent millions more," said Frieden.

Controlling these diseases depends on the continued vigilance of public health systems throughout the world. A recent study found that weaknesses in public health infrastructure are the major driving factors in infectious disease outbreaks. A case in point: the cholera outbreak in Haiti after the massive 2010 earthquake destroyed the country's ability to care for its sick.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid