Global HealthInfectious DiseaseWiRED Module

Easily Overlooked Diseases Pose Danger in 2020

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Prevention More Crucial than Ever

Allison Kozicharow; Edited by Jessie Crowdy

The good news: Major infectious diseases such as HIV and malaria are less likely to shorten or take people’s lives today due to medical and healthcare advances. The bad news: Less prominent diseases such as polio and dengue are on the rise — even though they are easily preventable.

Unfortunately, the basic measures to guard against disease — starting with vaccination — are not always followed, nor is essential health knowledge available in many underserved communities. 

WiRED International strongly supports vaccination. This relatively simple measure not only protects vulnerable people from current diseases but also from those thought to have been eradicated. Measles, for example, made a comeback last year among unvaccinated communities. There is no treatment for measles, which is highly contagious and dangerous, especially to children under age five. All of the 1,276 cases of measles reported in 2019 in the United States, where vaccines are readily available, could have been prevented. In many places in the world, but particularly in the neediest communities, vaccination simply doesn’t happen due to vaccine scarcity, poor distribution networks and other obstructions (see sidebar).

WiRED’s aim is always to strengthen illness prevention among the low-resource populations worldwide who benefit from our materials and programs. We offer hundreds of free training modules in our Health Learning Center that can be copied, downloaded and shared free of charge. Our modules are evidence-based, peer-reviewed and continually updated with current medical knowledge.

2020 is just beginning. WiRED believes that commitment, innovation, partnership and an investment in educating people about prevention can promote better health in every community.  

What Prevents People from Getting Vaccinated?

World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus offered the following points during his opening remarks at the Global Vaccination Summit last September.

  • In some countries, vaccine hesitancy contributes to outbreaks.
  • Vaccine misinformation can be as contagious and as dangerous as the diseases it helps to spread.
  • Globally, over one in 10 children born today do not receive basic vaccines.
  • Every year, 13 million children miss out altogether – they never receive a single vaccine dose.
  • Most unvaccinated children live in countries affected by poverty, conflict, migration and fragile health systems.
  • In all countries, regardless of income levels, the poorest and most disadvantaged children are most likely to miss out.
  • Mass urbanization, displacement, conflict, natural disasters and environmental disruption all exacerbate challenges to immunization, and create the conditions in which diseases spread.

Basic Steps to Avoid Disease

  • Wash your hands often with soap and clean water
  • Get vaccinated
  • Use antibiotics prudently
  • Avoid people who are sick and avoid people when you are sick
  • Handle food and food preparation safely
  • Practice safe sex
  • Do not share personal items such as toothbrushes, combs or drinking glasses