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Science and Politics– preventive measures

Prevention is better than cure,” said Desiderius Erasmus, a famous Dutch scholar. This quote passes through our ears quite often. However, the question at this point is: do we really understand the spirit of this famous quotation? Preventive measures ensure taking essential steps well ahead of time to avoid seriousand/orcritical issues.

Preventive measures have unique importance in devastating lethal diseases. To this day, Malaria remains a fatal infectious disease. To cure this disease, various anti-malarial remedies have been developed alongside various preventive measures to control and/or eradicate it.

In ancient times, Egyptians used to sleep in tower like buildings to avoid contact with mosquitoes. Use of bed nets and fire to create smoke are other ancient methods to keep the mosquitoes at bay. Currently, mosquito repellents are being used alongside primitive methods such as mosquito nets andthe use of full clothing to cover the whole body.

In earlier times, it was believed that malaria was due to bad air. The word “Malaria” was itself derived from the two Italian words “mala” meaning bad, and “aria” from the air. The concept of the microbial source of malaria originated from the scientific discoveries that demonstrated the involvement of various microorganisms in this infectious disease. The most notable first contribution in this regard is the work of French physician Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran who discovered the malarial parasites from the blood samples of the sufferers. He was awarded Noble Prize in 1907 for his contribution to the determination of the microbial origin of infectious diseases. Moreover, a British scientist, Ronald Ross, who worked in India, demonstrated that mosquitoes are the major source of transmittance of the disease. He was awarded Noble Prize for medicine in 1902 for elucidating the first detailed description of the life cycle of the malarial parasite. To cure a disease, it is imperative to know its source. Hence the discoveries mentioned above opened up new opportunities to combat this fatal disease more efficiently.

Efforts to develop standardised anti-malarial drugs started in the early 19th century when the active ingredient (quinine) was isolated from the bark of a famous cinchona (quinaquina) tree, which was traditionally used to cure marsh fever. The other isolated molecules, including quinidine, cinchonine and cinchonidine from cinchona were also found effective against malaria. Quinine was the most effective drug to combat malaria in early 20th century until the development of new anti-malarial medicines.

Along with the efforts of developing anti-malarial drugs, a number of preventive measures were also taken to avoid mosquito bites, a natural cause of malarial spread. The simple precautions to circumvent mosquitoes include the use of repellents, drainage of the stagnant water, planting in marshlands, and fumigation in homes among others. Such preventive measures have proved to be effective in controlling the deadly disease not only today but were applicable and effective since the emergence of concept that mosquitos were the natural source of malaria spread.

 

The importance of preventive measures in controlling deadly diseases is beyond any doubt. Likewise, preventive measures carry equal significance in averting many issues or disasters such as floods and earthquake.We as a nation are threatened by these natural disasters, which quite often affect large populated areas. In this context, the strong preventive measures by relevant disaster management authorities must be taken to shrink the intensity of such issues. Milk adulteration, being a serious problem, is a recent talk of the town. The issue of milk adultarance, if exists, can be addressed by food regulatory authorities via necessary steps in packed milk processes.

Preventive measures enable us to avoid serious issues/incidents in any walk of life. Recently, everyone in the country was shocked and deeply sorrowed in the wake of a mournful incident of the aeroplane crash that resulted in the death of all innocent onboard passengers in the local flight. Unfortunately, this was not the first incident. A similar incident happened a few years back where no one survived in the indigenous flight, and there is an unfortunate history of such incidents without local airlines. A question now arises that why such incidents are less common in the developed countries? The obvious answer is the strict compliance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs). Different departments of the airline including engineering, aviation and flight crew fulfil their duties without any favour to anyone and make sure to obey the SOPs religiously. Such eye-opening events demand a re-evaluation of the system to re-define standard operating procedures along with appropriate preventive measures to avoid such incidents in future. Preventive measures put us a step ahead to control/minimise the losses. Last but not least, a strict compliance in implementing the effective preventive measures will improve our system to save precious lives.

Hameed, Abdul. Science and Politics– preventive measures. Daily Times, March 21, 2017.

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