YOU AND PUBLIC HEALTH
Public health is concerned with the science and art of preventing disease prolonging life and promoting health and social well-being of the people. The aim of public health is to ensure that all unfavourable environmental agents, such as pathogenic microbes and parasites including deleterious chemicals and substance are controlled or prevented from contaminating human’s food and water supplies. In other word, public health attempts at preventing or controlling the speed and occurrence of infections and non-communicable diseases in the community.
Although non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular conditions, degenerative and neoplastic diseases affect humans, the majority of human diseases are caused by microbes and parasites. Microbes and parasites can be stubborn and refractive. Their harmful effects are usually dramatic, sometimes spectacular, and often tragic. In spirit of the fact that most of the secrets of microbes are now known, most controlled and subdued, there is still much to learn and much to discover. When man developed the magic bullet the microbes came up with resistance, and this is currently creating new and serious therapeutic challenges. When man introduces vaccines and vaccination, the microbes responded with antigenic variations. Rather than hindering human efforts, these developments have often acted to motivated humans to discover more effective means of dealing with the parasites. Notwithstanding the great advances in human knowledge, microbial and parasitic diseases are still very common especially in developing countries where more than half all illnesses for which patients consult their physicians caused by microbes and parasites.
The contagiousness and communicability of most infectious also distinguish them from non-communicable diseases to other people for the occurrence of epidemic outbreak. Furthermore, many infections are preventable through the judicious use of antibiotics or other drugs, as in the case of pyrimethamine and malaria, ivermectin and onchocerciasis ; this method being referred to as chemoprophylaxis. The effect of infectious diseases on public health has recently been compounded by unhygienic lifestyles and sexually transmitted infections and other transmissible diseases like tuberculosis, pneumonia, and AIDS – the devastating and deadly diseases and their concomitant effects on the health of many members of the public are related to the low per capital income and poor condition and standard of living in many developing countries, it is therefore not surprising that tuberculosis, meningitis, worm infection, typhoid fever and malaria, among other preventable infectious diseases, mainly affect the poor, the ignorant and the malnourished.
In spite of the fact that many communicable diseases have dramatically decreased in developed countries due mainly to socio-economic justice, improved nutrition and condition of living, mass education and enlightenment, better sanitation, personal hygiene and good housing, the prevalence and frequent incidence of microbial and parasitic diseases continue to take their toll in developing countries. This unfortunate situation is due mainly to socioeconomic injustice, poverty, ignorance and malnutrition. Infection diseases whose occurrence have decreased, and in some instances almost disappeared, in developed countries include poliomyelitis, tuberculosis, bacillary dysentery and malaria. Indeed, the considerable reduction in the outbreak of communicable diseases in advanced countries has proved that all microbial and parasitic infections hitherto thought to be incurable and uncontrollable are not only treatable but also preventable. But their control and prevention would only be accomplished through political commitment to adequate research and Medicare funding, public health education and by the proper use of drugs and vaccines.
Recognition of diseases and the spread of diseases out-break as a common problem of all nation was finally achieved in 1851, when an international conference was convened in Paris to discuss and agree on measures that would be employed to deal with the epidemics of plagues, cholera, and yellow fever in the then societies such as the Pan-American (1923) and the world health organization in 1948.
Lassa fever is a viral disease, n acute viral infection found in the tropics, especially in west Africa. Epidemics of Lassa fever have occurred in countries such as sierra Leone, Congo, Liberia and Nigeria.
The lassa fever has been in a rodent known as the ‘’ multimammate rat’’ of the genus Mastomys. It occurs more often in the dry season rather than in the rainy season.
The virus can be transmitted through direct contact with urine dropping of a infected rat through touching objects or eating rat, food contaminated with these materials, or through cut or sores. These rates scavenge on human food remains or badly stored food like rice, Garry, beans etc. Contact with the virus also occurs when a person inhales tiny particles in the air contaminated with rodent excretions. It is also possible to contact the disease from person as earlier mentioned. The number of Lassa virus infectious per year in West Africa has been roughly estimated at 100,000 to 3oo, 000 with at least 5,000 deaths yearly.
Lassa fever was first recognized in 1969 in the village of Lassa, Nigeria by a team led by Dr Jordi Casals Ariet, when two missionary nurses died of it. Subsequent outbreaks occurred in Nigeria, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. In some parts of Sierra Leone and Liberia, 10% to 16% of all patients admitted to hospital had Lassa fever. Some Lassa fever ceases have been ‘’ imported’’ into the U.S and U.K though viremic travelers who acquired the disease elsewhere.
Solving public health problem throughout the world ought to be of great concern to everyone. This is because an epidemic which starts in one place may spread round the world if public health workers do not take proper and adequate preventive and sanitary measures to control it. Clearly sanitation is important because many disease microbes or germs breed in filth. Some, such as the germs of typhoid fever, cholera and dysentery, may enter drinking water or food and infect countless persons. As Edwin Chadwick (1842) emphasized in his pioneering report on public health activities, there is an incontrovertible relationship between poverty, ignorance, filthy environmental conditions and communicable diseases. The awareness on the terrible effects of filthiness on health and well-being kindled the interest and desire to reduce or eliminate filth and its associated diseases dissemination. For such contagious diseases as whooping cough, diphtheria, tuberculosis, measles, among others, that spread from person to person, public health officials usually quarantine ( isolate ) the afflicted as effective management and preventive measures.
Also important in the promotion and maintenance of health is the availability and affordability of good and nutritious food items. By food we mean organic substances containing nutrients such as CH205, proteins, lipids, vitamins and minerals that when consumed and metabolized release materials and energy necessary for survival, growth , work repair and replacement of dead and worn-out tissue. Carbohydrates, proteins, lipids and H2O are known as primary food substances because they are essential for the maintenance of the body. Mineral salts and vitamins are known as welfare because they are necessary for the well-being of the individual. The totality of all the foods we take is referred to a diet. A diet which consists entirely of primary food substances and lacks the welfare foods will result in deficiency diseases and ill-health. A well-nourished person is more resistant to diseases than one who is malnourished. Because one can only live a happy and healthy life if one is well nourished, good nutrition is widely regarded as the best preventive medicine. A diet which contains the right food substances is known as a balance diet, and when properly and hygienically prepared it usually provides man with enough nutrients and energy to maintain body heat, carry out all his activities and to build up the essential tissues and cells.
The energy used by the body in creating and maintaining body temperature and fighting an infection need to be replaced, and good feeding is an essential part of infectious diseases. In particularly long-standing cases of pyrexia, sufficient calories must be taken but in a form which is easily digestible and quickly absorbed. Glucose, milk and eggs usually provide valuable amount of such nutrient. Other factors of importance in relation to nutrition and health are sufficient sleep, fresh air and exercise. All these public health measures are meant to ensure and promote health and well-being of citizen in the community.