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ART AND MEDICINE
Year : 2005  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 84-85 Table of Contents     

Two Worlds


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Date of Web Publication18-Jun-2010

Correspondence Address:
Rachel Hajar
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


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How to cite this article:
Hajar R. Two Worlds. Heart Views 2005;6:84-5

How to cite this URL:
Hajar R. Two Worlds. Heart Views [serial online] 2005 [cited 2020 Feb 25];6:84-5. Available from: http://www.heartviews.org/text.asp?2005/6/2/84/64016

[Additional file 1]"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"

Throughout the ages, epidemics and plagues have killed and caused suffering to millions of people. Jenner's introduction of vaccination against smallpox in 1796 was one of the milestones in medicine, alleviating the suffering of people around the world. In those days, a million people died from smallpox each year in Europe alone. Mortality was 20-30% in previously unvaccinated individuals and was one of the world's most feared diseases. It was officially declared eradicated in 1979 as a result of a collaborative global vaccination program led by the World Health Organization.

Since Jenner's time, vaccines have been developed against more than 20 infectious diseases such as influenza, pneumonia, whooping cough, rubella, measles, diphtheria, poliomyelitis, rabies, meningitis, hepatitis A and B, and meningococcemia.

Tremendous advances in molecular biology have opened up new possibilities and novel approaches to the development of vaccines against deadly diseases that still plague mankind. Therapeutic vaccines designed to stimulate the immune system to fight existing disease, rather than preventing a future infection, are under investigation. Those currently in progress are vaccines for Type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and certain forms of cancer.

In the future, new approaches such as inhaled vaccines and injectable DNA vaccines will become available. New forms of vaccine delivery, such as "edible vaccines", genetically engineered into staple foods such as potatoes, bananas, and tomatoes will greatly benefit poor and developing countries.

Vaccine science has advanced remarkably over the past 200 years, using cutting-edge research technologies in immunology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and microbiology. New vaccines are being developed against serious respiratory and gastrointestinal infections caused by various bacteria and viruses as well as vaccines against sexually transmitted diseases. We can expect more vaccines against a variety of diseases. Prevention of illness through vaccination means that, one day, infectious diseases as well as other debilitating diseases may become a thing of the past.

Unfortunately, the poorest countries of Asia and Africa have not benefited from the impressive advances in medical science and technology because of economic and sociopolitical factors, government apathy, and deficient world resolve. Vaccines are the most cost-effective tools for preventing death and disability in developing countries. Infectious disease epidemics such as cholera recurrently break out in poor countries. The WHO reported in the first week of October 2005 that the worst cholera epidemic in years is sweeping across West Africa.

The infectious disease mortality in poor countries is 90% against 10% in rich countries, a shocking fact that highlights the wide gap in health care between rich and poor nations. Developing cheap, accessible, and easily delivered vaccines is one solution to the complex health discrepancy between rich and poor countries.




 

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