Malaria. HIV/AIDS. Pneumonia. Polio. Tuberculosis. Diarrhea. The list of diseases that primarily affect the most vulnerable—children and those living in extreme poverty—goes on. If you’re like me, just seeing the beginning of this list of preventable diseases is quite overwhelming.
The cause for hope is that word preventable. Through the partnership of political will and medical research and innovation, we’ve developed medications, immunizations, and treatments that will work with minimal health infrastructure. We’ve identified cost-effective ways to prevent these diseases: from providing long-lasting insecticide bed nets, to safe and clean water, to promoting good nutrition. Several countries have even seen the eradication of several of these diseases from within their borders! As a global community, we’re well on our way to fully preventing these diseases.
Here are some stories and facts that give me hope for the prevention of disease:
- The world’s first malaria vaccine will begin pilot projects in 2018, reports World Health Organization (WHO).
- Not only has the GAVI Alliance supported more than 580 million children’s immunizations since 2000, but it has also strengthened health systems in more than 60 countries.
- Polio virus 2 was eradicated from the world in 2015—and World Vision’s expert Frank Conlon was there to witness it!
- This August, WHO released a new fast-acting test to diagnose tuberculosis that is able to be used in rural health centers.
- After 13 years of turning the tide on HIV/AIDS, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) continues to innovate and has launched a new DREAMS initiative targeting adolescent girls—World Vision was announced as a winner in the innovation challenge!
However, funding shortfalls, fragile health systems, and antimicrobial resistance are just some of the barriers that undermine the progress we have made – jeopardizing our ability to meet our targets for elimination of these preventable diseases.
Today, please join me in prayer as we ponder what our role can be in the prevention of disease.
Jehovah Rapha (Lord who heals),
Help us not to be overwhelmed when we see the numbers, statistics, and stories of disease around the world—rather, show us how we can care for our sick neighbors both near and far. Strengthen health systems so that they may serve vulnerable populations and the hardest to reach. Guide our leaders and all those who have a say in continuing funding for innovative research, treatment, and prevention of today’s and tomorrow’s diseases. Protect community health workers and those on the frontlines that administer immunizations and provide life-saving care. We lift all those afflicted by disease into your hands, O healer. Amen.
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Photo: A mosquito bed net prevents Steven, 7-years-old, from the deadly mosquito bites that cause malaria in his home in Zambia. © 2014 World Vision/ photo by Jon Warren