Modern medical drugs can help cure countless types of diseases, they save many lives and are very effective in combating diseases that are spread from person to person. Yet, in countries with few doctors and even fewer hospitals, they also have significant drawbacks. Particularly when:
- There is no access to a doctor who can identify the illness and prescribe the right drugs
- There is no access to a pharmacy that stocks the relevant drugs
- There is no access to the money required to purchase the necessary drugs
Wouldn’t it be great if, rather than waiting to become sick, one could have access to a type of medication that prevents sickness in the first place? Vaccines already exist for certain highly dangerous diseases. These can either be taken orally (like other types of medicine) or can be injected. These vaccines offer long term protection from certain diseases and, in some cases, offer lifelong immunity from specific sicknesses. Vaccination has even managed to cause some diseases to become extinct. Smallpox, a sickness that used to kill millions of people, has vanished because of the use of vaccines. Innumerable children have been saved from pain, disfigurement and disability because of this treatment.
After a vaccine, infections can be prevented.
Although it has not been possible to develop vaccines for all diseases (no effective protection against malaria has been discovered) many of the world’s most dangerous sicknesses can be prevented through vaccination. Tetanus, Hepatitis A and B, Diphtheria, Measles and Rubella can all be prevented by vaccines that have proven their value over many years. More recently, significant progress has been made in the development of a vaccine against the Ebola virus.
Vaccinations are generally conducted on a village by village basis as this ensures that all patients are given fresh supplies of the medication and reduces costs. It would be a great success for mankind if we could ensure that more of the world’s terrible diseases follow smallpox into extinction.