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

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid