Medical science has advanced in leaps and bounds in the generations that have passed since the end of World War Two. In fact, as distasteful as the thought is to many people, it has usually been a war that has spurred new discoveries in the realm of medicine.
However, many of the most common childhood diseases still linger, especially in the developing world where they increase the odds of childhood mortality.
But those diseases such as measles, whooping cough, influenza, gastroenteritis, and malaria are losing ground. In part, this is due to the advances in immunization and better living conditions for the communities where these most common childhood diseases led to untold suffering for children and the communities where they made their homes.
Take for instance Gastroenteritis. The supply of cheap and easy-to-access electrolyte solutions which have now become available to many communities in developing countries seems on the edge of stemming the tide of deaths that once affected children. With the right advice supplied by international aid organizations and the governments of the countries affected, the survival rate for sufferers of Gastroenteritis has increased remarkably.
The war against influenza as well is by no means won, but great strides have been made in creating vaccines that deal with new strains as they present themselves. the levels of support for children who are affected by the flu has also increased remarkably over the past decades.
Vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella have also allowed children in developing (and developed) countries to enjoy a better quality of life. It is almost unheard of these days to encounter deaths from these conditions if a child is allowed to have access to vaccines.
The effectiveness of these vaccines is amply demonstrated by the fact that polio has been almost eradicated across the globe. However, there is one caveat to the success of vaccines–they must be used by entire communities. If only a few children are prevented from having access to the vaccines they lose their effectiveness. The effect of what is called ‘herd immunity’ is profound. If the threshold of those not vaccinated falls below a certain levels the epidemics tend to surge back across entire communities.
Great strides have been made in medical science – but vigilance when it comes to children is still required – and the devotion of medical professionals who are at the vanguard of these efforts is essential.