Thursday, May 17, 2012

Prevention is Better than Cure

This posting's title is a popular adage in Nigeria mainly used in relation to health issues.  It serves to show the importance of taking measures to prevent illness rather than go through the trouble of treatment.  A very good example of this is getting vaccinated to prevent infection by certain diseases.  Today many diseases that hitherto resulted in death or disability have been brought under control as a result of immunization.  Diseases like smallpox, whooping cough, measles and polio.
First documented vaccines began when a British doctor Edward Jenner noticed milkmaids who had cowpox never contracted small pox.  He then carried out an experiment in 1796 in which puss from a cowpox blister was inserted into an eight year old boy and proved that having been inoculated with cowpox the boy was immune to smallpox.  From this beginning vaccines have been developed to protect against many fatal or serious diseases.  Better yet, smallpox has been eradicated thanks to the pioneering work of Edward Jenner.
Today immunization starts at birth and most are usually completed by the time the child is two years old.  Why start so early?  Why not wait until the child is grown?  This is what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has to say.

  • Newborn babies are immune to many diseases because they have antibodies they got from their mothers. However, this immunity goes away during the first year of life. Also, young children do not have this "maternal immunity" against some diseases, such as whooping cough. 
  • If an unvaccinated child is exposed to a disease germ, the child's body may not be strong enough to fight the disease. Before vaccines, many children died from diseases which vaccines now prevent, such as whooping cough, measles, and polio. Those same germs exist today, but because babies are now protected by vaccines, we do not see these diseases nearly as often. 
  • Immunizing individual children also helps to protect the health of our community, especially those people who cannot be immunized. These include children who are too young to be vaccinated (for example, children less than a year old cannot receive the measles vaccine but can be infected by the measles virus), those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons (for example, children with leukemia), and those who cannot make an adequate response to vaccination.
Most children in Nigeria go through the various vaccinations, unfortunately some parents are still resistant to immunization especially the one for polio.  According to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative about 50% of 2012 cases of polio in the world are from Nigeria.  This is unacceptable.   Thankfully the global community, the Nigerian federal government, and the state/local governments in polio endemic states are committed to ensuring all children are immunized.  The goal of course is to eradicate polio just as smallpox was.  With at the very least the polio vaccine but better still eradication, in the future countless Nigerian children will be born with the assurance that they can walk, run, jump, skip, climb trees like their peers all over the world.


  1. Hi,
    Really your posting is very informative and useful for others. I really appreciate your work. Prevention is better than cure …all knowing it. But no one consider it serious. We will not get back our Life. I would like to know more about health related topics…!

  2. Hello,
    It’s true…! In this busy scheduled life we don’t have time to take care of our own health. We just go on ignoring ourselves which can be very harmful in future. Your writing is a nice one which can create awareness among the people to at least find some time for them.
    Keep on posting some new tips…!