Epidemiology

Epidemiology is a Greek word that concerns about studying the trend, distribution and occurrence of a disease among a specific population. Also, it is study the circumstances that make a disease to occur. The person who is specialized in this area is known as epidemiologist.

The five main scope of Epidemiology:

1. To identify the cause of disease and its risk factors.
2. To determine the extent of disease found in the community.
3. To study the natural history and outcome of disease.
4. To evaluate new preventative and therapeutic measures.
5. To provide a foundation for developing public policy.

There are mainly seven reasons of epidemiology:

1. Studying the history of the health of the population
2. Diagnosing the health of the community, which could include the incidence of a particular disease, the prevalence, the morbidity and mortality rates of the population under taken
3. Studying the health services and viewing their improvement
4. Estimating from the group experience what are the individual risks
5. Identifying syndromes by describing association and distribution
6. Describing the chronic diseases and their natural history
7. Searching the etiology of health and diseases

The History of Epidemiology

Epidemiological studies started many years ago. Two examples of epidemiological studies conducted by two famous epidemiologists are given below. One of the epidemiologists is John Snow and the other is Edward Jenner.

John Snow:

John Snow is an example of a famous anesthesiologist who discovered how people got sick in 19th century. In September, 1854, there were 600 people who died from cholera. The Registrar General at that time was William Farr. Both of them had a disagreement on how cholera is transmitted. Farr and other people thought that this disease is transmitted by a cloud, that clung low on the surface of the earth and people who live at a lower altitude would be at higher risk of having the disease. This which is a fanciful reason. On the other hand, Snow believed that cholera is transmitted by contaminated water.
In London at that time, there was a water supply company known as Southwark and Vauxhall Company who took the water from the Thames River, which was very polluted on one side. Another company, known as the Lambeth Company, who also took water from the same river, but from the other side, which was less polluted. This gave an interesting opportunity. He counted how many people died from drinking from each company. The results were as follows, 315 people died drinking water from the first company but only 38 people died drinking water from the second company. At the end, because Snow's data convinced the Registrar General, he asked other registrars to gather data from each house regarding the water supply and the number of cholera cases.
This research demonstrated that contaminated water was indeed the factor for cholera, not a low cloud.

Edward Jenner

Edward Jenner, who was from the Historical Medical Museum and Library, Mansell Collection, London, was born in 1749. He was very interested in studying smallpox, which was very common at that time. Jenner was interested in finding a better and safer way to prevent this disease. He tried to do some tests to treat patients with smallpox. He had some cowpox material removed from a dairy maid's hand and gave an inoculation an 8 years old volunteer. Interestingly, the child didn't contract smallpox. Although this study helped to save literally millions of people from disability and death caused by the scourge of smallpox, Jenner didn't know anything about viruses and the biology of smallpox. The World Health Organization (WHO) began international efforts in 1967 to use vaccination with cowpox virus. Until that time, smallpox afflicted 15 million people annually throughout the world, of whom 2 million died and millions of others were left blind or disfigured.
Jenner's research led to more than just the discovery of a treatment for smallpox. It led to the discovery of the importance of vaccinations and epidemiological studies.
Argument Regarding the Importance of Epidemiology
The government should pay attention to epidemiological research. The reason why they have to do so is that they will benefit the public and improve healthcare quality. From this stand it is firmly believable that this research will prevent the occurrence of diseases as well as improve the quality of care. As an example, the UAE government carried out a study regarding the main causes of death in the country. As we have suspected, one of the main causes is car accidents. The results were shocking, and led the government to reframe the rules, regulations and polices of traffic laws. They also conduct awareness campaigns throughout the UAE. Moreover, the science of epidemiology is crucial, if not considered the most important science among other health related sciences. In contrast to physicians, epidemiologists focus on the community as a whole rather than individual people. They also try to prevent disease before it begins. This is called "primary prevention", and from this point it is very important to state that the role of epidemiologist could be more crucial as people may not go through the pain of the disease, if there are ways to prevent it.

Done by:
Alya. Z
Badreya. A
Moza. O
Shaikha. A
HMGT 06

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