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How to assess disease impact

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  • Bone, Eric
    Maybe I ve skimmed through the latest flurry of emails too fast, but one thing I have not found is a mention of the different impacts that diseases can have.
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 11, 2004
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      Maybe I've skimmed through the latest flurry of emails too fast, but one thing I have not found is a mention of the different impacts that diseases can have. Most of what I've seen is a straight comparison of the number of people who get sick or die from malaria vs. AIDS. That's part of the impact, but there's also the further impact that the death of these individuals has on other individuals. If I remember correctly from my PC training about malaria, it hits children and the elderly the hardest. On the other hand, AIDS hits hardest at mature adults who are in the most productive phase of life. These are the people who are supporting the children and elderly, and are the workers in industry in government. Given the different demographic effects of these two diseases, perhaps AIDS impacts the overall economy and societal structure of a country more than AIDS. By treating people in their 30s and 40s with AIDS, you keep their children from being orphaned, you keep their parents from being destitute, and you keep your skilled workers on the job. I think to have a fair comparison about where resources for fighting diseases should go, we need to consider these things.

      -Eric


      -------------------------------------------------------
      Eric Bone, Ph.D.
      Science and Technology Policy Intern
      Office of International Affairs
      The National Academies
      phone: 202.334.2199
      fax: 202.334.2139
      email: ebone@...

    • johooper@unm.edu
      Good points Eric, Actually, malaria hits children and pregnant women the hardest. Pregnant women are at higher risk for infection and complications with
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 11, 2004
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        Good points Eric,

        Actually, malaria hits children and pregnant women the hardest.
        Pregnant women are at higher risk for infection and complications with
        malaria because during pregnancy the mother's immune system is
        weakened so as not to reject the fetus, which is essentially a foreign
        body living inside the mother. Children are at increased risk because
        they have not yet built up a substantial immune response to the
        disease, which actually takes about 5 years and is region-specific (so
        when one, of any age, moves to a new area, their body has to build up
        resistance to the local malaria parasites as well, which takes time).
        Similarly, I would imagine that AIDS patients would also be especially
        susceptible to malaria, due to their compromised immune systems.
        Additionally, the reason that diarrhea and upper respiratory
        infections are killers in underdeveloped countries is largely due to
        malnutrition--or again a weakened immune system resulting in an
        individual who is unable to fight off viruses and bacteria that a
        healthy, well-nourished individual would have no problem surviving.
        So, my point is that by improving nutrition, providing clean water
        sources (or teaching people how to properly treat drinking water), and
        preventing malaria you will also be helping an AIDS patient who is
        extra susceptible to illness as well as helping everyone else in the
        community become less susceptible to illness from such diseases. It
        just seems illogical to me to jump to expensive tertiary treatments
        before implementing inexpensive preventative measures. But, being
        human has certainly not been associated with being logical much of the
        time. :) The economic impact of malaria on countries actually has
        been studied and economist Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University
        actually asserts that malaria causes poverty and has a substantial
        effect on economies (in addition, of course to the logical inverse
        relationship). I have attached one of his articles.

        Joanna


        Quoting "Bone, Eric" <EBone@...>:

        > Maybe I've skimmed through the latest flurry of emails too fast, but
        > one
        > thing I have not found is a mention of the different impacts that
        > diseases
        > can have. Most of what I've seen is a straight comparison of the
        > number of
        > people who get sick or die from malaria vs. AIDS. That's part of the
        > impact> ,
        > but there's also the further impact that the death of these
        > individuals has
        > on other individuals. If I remember correctly from my PC training
        > about
        > malaria, it hits children and the elderly the hardest. On the other
        > hand,
        > AIDS hits hardest at mature adults who are in the most productive
        > phase of
        > life. These are the people who are supporting the children and
        > elderly, and
        > are the workers in industry in government. Given the different
        > demographic
        > effects of these two diseases, perhaps AIDS impacts the overall
        > economy and
        > societal structure of a country more than AIDS. By treating people in
        > their
        > 30s and 40s with AIDS, you keep their children from being orphaned,
        > you kee> p
        > their parents from being destitute, and you keep your skilled workers
        > on th> e
        > job. I think to have a fair comparison about where resources for
        > fighting
        > diseases should go, we need to consider these things.
        >
        > -Eric
        >
        >
        > -------------------------------------------------------
        > Eric Bone, Ph.D.
        > Science and Technology Policy Intern
        > Office of International Affairs
        > The National Academies
        > phone: 202.334.2199
        > fax: 202.334.2139
        > email: ebone@...
        >
        >
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