Importance of epidemiology to public health

IMPORTANCE OF EPIDEMIOLOGY 1

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Epidemiology provides the basis for describing and explain diseaseoccurrence in the community. According to Rothman, Greenland &ampLash (2008), by describing public health problems from anepidemiological perspective, health practitioners are in a positionof understanding the disease’ potential impact to the society. Thisis because epidemiology helps the practitioners to understand moreabout the disease through epidemiological measures such asprevalence, incidence and mortality rates. In this regards, theundertaking allows one to identify facts regarding the potentialhigh-risk groups in the community and possible explanations behindsuch trends (Greenland et al., 2008). For example, medicalprofessionals can use epidemiology to find out the affecteddemographics most affected by sexual diseases. This information canbe used examine the behavior and other factors that might account forthe apparent prevalence amongst the demographics, hence have astarting ground for controlling the disease.

Berkman,Kawachi &amp Glamour (2014) says one of the most important thingsabout epidemiology in public health is that it provides the healthprofessionals with a basis for developing, prioritizing andevaluating public health schedules. These should be developed basedon urgency. Epidemiology provides an approach to executing thiseffectively. Additionally, epidemiology helps the public healthpractitioners to have answers to questions such as the problems thathave the greatest public health impact and adequacy of services tosolve this problems (Fletcher, Fletcher &amp Fletcher, 2012). Otherinformation from epidemiology, such as measures of morbidity andmortality, can be used by the public health practitioners tocharacterize the public impact of major health problems. At the sametime, epidemiology provides information that can be kept in publichealth records to help counter outbreaks whenever they hit again(Fletcher et al., 2012).

Example:Ebola

At the moment, West Africa is facing the largest outbreak of Ebolavirus ever in history. The causative virus for this outbreak is knownas the Zaire Ebolavirus (EBOV) (Althaus, 2014). It is one of the mostvirulent pathogens among the known viral hemorrhagic fevers. Thevirus’ fertility rate is as high as 90%. The mortality is as aresult of severe bleeding complications. Hitherto, WHO (World HealthOrganization) has reported that there have been more than 5000 cases,with more than 2000 confirmed deaths (WHO, 2015). The risk factorsfor the disease include percutaneosis and exposure to blood and otherbody fluids. These are the major risk factors that have to beconsidered whenever health professionals are evaluating a suspectedcase.

The disease’ epidemiology helps the health practitioners topractice safely whenever they are handling the patients, because thedisease is highly contagious. It also helps the professionals toquarantine the suspected cases and preparing them for check-up andtreatment. Additionally, by understanding the disease’ spreadingmodule, the health practitioners can take control of the movement ofpeople from regions of high contamination to other places.Information about the disease’ epidemiology has helped air trafficmedical practitioners to advise airlines and airport authoritieswhenever a flight from a high risk region lands in places where thecases have not been reported. Medically, epidemiology about thedisease has helped the medical practitioners to develop medicine tohelp suppress the virus’ adverse effects to the bodies of thevictims, and possible treatment. Since the outbreak, epidemiologicalstudies about the virus have helped in the overall quarantining,controlling and treatment of cases. The epidemiological informationabout the disease has also been archived to help the healthprofessionals to deal with the disease more effectively in futureoutbreaks.

References

Althaus, C.L. (2014). Estimating the reproduction number of Zaire Ebola virus(EBOV) during the 2014 outbreak in West Africa.&nbsparXivpreprint arXiv:1408.3505.

Berkman, L.F., Kawachi, I., &amp Glymour, M. (Eds.). (2014).&nbspSocialepidemiology.Oxford University Press.

Fletcher, R.H., Fletcher, S. W., &amp Fletcher, G. S. (2012).&nbspClinicalepidemiology: the essentials.Lippincott Williams &amp Wilkins.

Rothman, K.J., Greenland, S., &amp Lash, T. L. (Eds.). (2008).&nbspModernepidemiology.Lippincott Williams &amp Wilkins.

World Health Organization. (2015). Ebola virus disease. Retrievedon 14 March 2015 from: http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/en/