My Past Academic Writings 2: Do you agree that the best way to combat diseases is through science?  

So, I have decided to showcase some of my past, not so well-done academic writings that I have done in my 2 years in Junior College. They are not the best, but these are definitely pieces which I have placed my hard work, sweat and blood into. And I most definitely welcome discussions!

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Medical staff carry James Dorbor, 8, suspected of having Ebola, into a treatment facility in Monrovia, Liberia.

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This world has seen many epidemic outbreaks, from the Black Plague in England, to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, to H1N1 in 2009, and Ebola today. While times like these are often dark and dismal, it is unsurprising that at the end of the day, the outcome is ubiquitous: mankind becomes more resilient. There are those who pride the overcoming of such adversities to scientific or medical breakthroughs, however I believe that our successes stems from a combination of routines, a variety of methodologies, each aimed at handling the task on hand, and not necessarily solely from scientific breakthroughs.

Prima facie, the existence of other factors, aside science, helps mankind to combat diseases. These includes whether a nation is able to provide fundamental healthcare to her people, or whether actions undertaken by the government are swift, even individuals themselves play a crucial role in combating against diseases. Accessibility and affordability are key factors to be considered. The nation must answer whether the existence of whatever available resources would be able to combat against the epidemic at its tipping point, where the number of affected patients in hospitals exceeds the number of available healthcare personnel. The World Health Organisation (WHO) gave an alarming finding stating that the dearth of hospital personnel and beds is what downplay or invalidate the efforts Sierra Leone ad Liberia are undertaking against Ebola. While President Barack Obama sends an army pf 3,000 soldiers over to construct hospitals in Sierra Leone and Liberia, the locals have questioned whether a better alternative would be to send trained doctors and nurses on site. In comparison, developed nations, such as Singapore or the United States of America, possess not only a surfeit of hospital beds, trained personnel, and many ambulances, they too also possess stringent protocol or regulation, such as the “Isolate, Contact-Tracing, Monitor” or “7 steps approach for Hand Hygiene”. In essence, depicting the nations’ readiness to combat against diseases. Hence, other factors should also be considered when addressing the issue on whether science is the best way to combat diseases.

It is, however, also true that science plays a significant role in combating against diseases. As humanity progresses, we have seen many breakthroughs in the medical fields. Mundane flu no longer affects most as the ease of getting and consuming the right prescription is high. It is an ineffable fact that scientific breakthroughs spawn potent medication, which in turn improves mankind’s overall immunity system. Polio, a water-borne disease, that affects many states in the continent of Africa, has seen a decline in the number of cases between 1970s to mid-2010 because of the vaccinations made available from medical breakthroughs. Of course, it would be myopic to state that scientific breakthroughs is the sole factor that causes such a decline, because education also plays a crucial element in alleviating the problem and mitigating it. WHO believes that with education, people in Africa will know how to seek treatment as well as preventing contracting Polio, and has since sent representatives over to teach the people about the significance of the above as well as the importance of drinking clean water.  Hence, combating disease via science is not necessary the most efficient way.

Furthermore, one must never forget that there lies ambiguity while using science as a mean to combat against diseases. Aforementioned, there is a need to use science to seek potent medication to tackle the evolutionary and abrupt nature of diseases. However, given the unreliable status of science albeit in the technologically advanced 21st century, science do not exclude the possibility of one attaining pernicious side-effects. It is not unknown of pharmaceutical companies being sued because of the medicine, which they had spent tens of millions of dollars on, possessing detrimental side-effects to the human body despite undergoing meticulous and thorough inspections and trials. For instance, a clinical trial conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded that the drug, Vioxx, created by the Mercx Company, had exposes users to an increased risks of getting heart attacks. As such, it is parochial to ascertain that science is the best way to combat against diseases.

Finally, science is not the best way to combat against diseases because it can be unethical. Aside from the rudimentary process of patenting for the medicinal research or getting approval for trials, scientists and researchers, in their pursuit of refining the hypothetical medicine against diseases, have been known to conduct experiments on animals, men, or both. Having possess similar DNA to human, laboratory mice or rabbits are frequent subjects to clinical trials. Over the years, there have been historical debates amongst those in favour of vivisection and those against it. At the end of the day, the Three “R”s principle, namely “Replacement”, “Reduction”, “Refinement”, became the guiding principle to ensure a more ethical use for animal testing. Hence, science may not be the best way to combat against diseases.

In conclusion, disease outbreak can evolve to a global phenomenon when unable to be dealt with efficiently. Combat against it includes a variety of methodologies: procedures, education, cooperation, government responses and more. It may be worrisome for those in Haiti who are experiencing the Cholera epidemic, or those in the Middle Eastern who battles against Ebola. Regardless, it is also important for one to embrace the notion, “Prevention is better than cure”, and to undertake personal responsibility for one’s health.

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Feature Image derived from “Picture of the Week” by TIMES magazine, dated September 5-12.

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