“Disease Warriors” Documentary and Epidemiology
Summary of the documentary “Disease Warriors”
The episode Disease Warriors describes the work of healthcare professionals, trying to prevent the spread of contagious diseases and help patients who suffer from various illnesses such as AIDS. This film shows that vaccination can be the key to eradicating diseases throughout the world. This method has been effective in stopping polio or smallpox, and it can help in the future. Yet, this documentary also shows that lack of resources can prevent healthcare organizations from achieving their goals.
Researchers and their contributions mentioned in the documentary
This documentary mentions various researchers who contributed to the study of vaccination. For instance, Edward Jenner developed the first vaccine for smallpox. Moreover, one can mention Louis Pasteur who pioneered the germ theory of diseases and increased people’s understanding of how viruses are spread.
Various diseases are currently controlled by vaccination. In the past, they posed numerous threats to populations of many countries. This information can be presented in table format:
|Name of the disease||Mode of transition||Region||Time of Peak||Casualties||The cause of the epidemic|
|Poliomyelitis||Oral and fecal-oral transmission||It was present in every region of the world. Nowadays it affects mostly African countries.||It was very widespread in the first half of the twentieth century. In the United States, the epidemic reached its peak in 1952||3. 145 people died in the United States in 1952 (Rose & MacKay, 2006, p. 153).||Lack of proper sanitation and hygiene.|
|Smallpox||Airborne and oral transmission.||Europe, Africa, America, Asia.||The eighteenth century.||In the eighteenth century, more than, 400,000 died of smallpox each year. (Rose & MacKay, 2006, p. 153).||Lack of sanitation.|
|Diphtheria||Airborne transmission||Europe, the United States, Asia||The first half of the twentieth century, 1980-2000 (Rose & MacKay, 2006, p. 312).||During the peak of the epidemic, more than 15,000 people died each year.||Shortages of vaccines and the high mobility of people.|
|Rubella||Airborne transmission||Europe, Asia, America, Africa||1962–1965||More than 30,000 people died throughout the world died during the epidemic.||Insufficient knowledge of this disease, and poor hygiene.|
Yet, other diseases emerged within the last twenty-five years. The information about them can be presented in the form of a table:
|Name||The occurrence of disease surfaced and deadliness||Origins||Symptoms||Transmission||The Danger to public health|
|SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome)||SARS surfaced in 2003. It led to more than 900 deaths worldwide.||It can be found primarily in animals such as bats and dogs||Fever, respiratory distress, lymphopenia,||This virus can be contracted from bats, dogs, monkeys. Yet, this disease can also be transmitted orally.||The major threat is that the symptoms of SARS can be confused with those of less serious diseases. This is why there is a possibility that the spread of infection may not be stopped in time (Friendlander 2009, p. 130).|
|Avian flu||It was registered in 2003. 263 people died at that time.||Infected birds||Muscle aches, fever, cough, conjunctivitis (Friendlander 2009, p. 130).||Contact with infected birds, airborne transmission.||This disease is dangerous because its symptoms can be confused with other diseases. Furthermore, the possibility of an epidemic is very high because people’s movement across national borders is practically unlimited.|
|The West Nile Virus||The virus itself was isolated in 1937, but the disease caused by this infection was registered in 1999 (Friendlander 2009, p. 111).||Mosquitoes, cats, horses, and dogs.||Diaphoresis, meningitis, pain in joints, encephalitis. These symptoms do not always manifest themselves clearly||263 deaths in total||Asymptomatic infection of individuals and fail to notice the spread of the virus are the main problems that can contribute to the epidemic.|
Population with natural immunity and the spread of certain diseases
There are several ways of stopping the spread of a disease, namely ring vaccination, and herd vaccination. Ring vaccination targets people surrounding a patient who contracted the disease, namely, family members, friends, sexual partners, and so forth.
This method is suitable when medical workers have a limited supply of vaccine is limited. However, it is possible to overlook a person who contracted the disease and he or she can transmit it to other people. In turn, herd vaccination targets a large proportion of the population. In this case, a large percentage of people become immune to the disease. However, it has some limitations; it might be difficult to vaccinate every individual especially in those countries where the population is very mobile. Secondly, medical workers may not have a sufficient amount of vaccine.
Additionally, one should remember about such a concept as natural immunity. For instance, the movie Rx for Survival refers to several African women who are believed to have developed a natural immunity to AIDS. The main problem is that these women can further transmit this virus to other people without knowing it.
Vaccines and obstacles to eradication of diseases
If suitable vaccinations are available, why do the diseases still persist around the world?
Several factors prevent many people from receiving necessary vaccination; one of them is the religious beliefs of people who think that vaccination runs contrary to the intentions of God. Furthermore, one can mention the apprehensions of some parents who think vaccinations can pose a threat to their children’s health. Overall, attitudes of people can be a critical factor hampers vaccination. Secondly, in some countries such as India, the population is extremely mobile, and it is difficult to locate an individual who needs a vaccine.
What reasons might deter people from being vaccinated?
Various controversies are related to vaccination, for instance, the belief that vaccination can pose a threat to a child’s health. MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine was once considered to the cause of autism (Offit & Bell, 2003, p. 104). Although this hypothesis was not substantiated, it had a significant impact on public opinion. Secondly, vaccination is associated with an increased risk of Schizophrenia and prenatal infection, but this association has not been fully demonstrated (Offit & Bell, 2003, p. 105).
There are also some ethical considerations, especially religious opposition toward vaccination. In contrast, medical workers believe it can shield a child from many risks. Those parents, who do not want their children to be vaccinated, forget that the human immune system may not cope with such illnesses as polio or hepatitis without external assistance. Hence, these people can endanger the life and health of their children.
How can living in the U.S. affect the way of thinking about the amount of disease around the world and its impact?
In the United States, children are vaccinated for a variety of diseases, for example, polio, measles, hepatitis, diphtheria, and many other diseases. This approach to public health eradicated these diseases in the country. As a result, many people that these diseases are successfully controlled throughout the world. They do not realize that contagious viruses still threaten people living in the developing countries of the world. Additionally, people underestimate the very impact of these diseases. This is why they often object to vaccination.
The future of global health
What factors have prevented the creation of a vaccine for HIV/AIDS?
The creation of a vaccine for HIV /AIDS is prevented by several circumstances. First, vaccines usually emulate natural immunity which is observed in people who survived the disease. Currently, there are virtually no patients that are known to recover from AIDS (Gust, 2007, p. 44). The film Rx for Survival mentions an African woman is believed to be immune to AIDS, but the validity of discovery still needs to be tested. Secondly, HIV can mutate within the body, and it can respond to antibodies and T-cells (Gust, 2007, 53). Finally, it may difficult to demonstrate that a vaccine gives constant protection against HIV and AIDS. Such studies can endanger the health of the participants.
Where is HIV/AIDS still a deadly disease and why?
The existing medication enables healthcare workers to mitigate the effects of AIDS. The life of a patient can be prolonged by more than twenty years. However, this disease remains deadly in countries such as Nigeria or Ethiopia. The main cause of this disparity is the lack of resources and poverty. For instance, in the United States and such a country like Nigeria, medical workers attempt to prevent the spread of this disease and help the patients. However, medical institutions in Nigeria are often underfunded, and many Nigerian people cannot afford medication.
What isthe greatest challenge in public health campaigns to eradicate disease around the globe?
The main obstacle to the eradication of diseases is the shortage of people and resources. The film Disease Warriors demonstrates that medical professionals offer only basic forms of medication. They cannot always help patients suffering from HIV or other diseases requiring expensive drugs. Furthermore, such organizations experience a shortage of people. Sometimes, a small group of volunteers has to vaccinate thousands of people or even find those children who need vaccination. These are the factors that make their task very difficult.
Beckham B. 2005. Rx for Survival: A Global Health Challenge. The United States: PBS.
Friendlander, M. (2009). Outbreak: Disease Detectives at Work. Twenty-First Century Books: Washington.
Gust, I. (2007). AIDS Vaccine Development: Challenges and Opportunities. Horizon Scientific Press: London.
Offit, P., & Bell L. (2003). Vaccines: What You Should Know. John Wiley & Sons: New York.
Rose, N., & MacKay I. (2006). The Autoimmune Diseases. Academic Press: London.