Infectious diseases define bodily disorders that may be perpetuated by certain organisms that survive inside or outside the human body. Although organisms are usually harmless and even beneficial, certain organisms may under varying conditions perpetuate severe ailments. According to Daniel (121), certain infectious ailments can be transmitted from one person to another, especially when they are passed on through bites and contamination by insects or animals. Different viewpoints have been posed in relation to infectious ailments (Mina 78). This paper conducts an extensive analysis on various ideologies that have been put in place in relation to infectious diseases. It will mainly analyze the historical background on the topic, elite ideological, and public viewpoints. The specific question of inquiry that this paper will be answering is about the historical background, and the elite ideological and public viewpoints on infectious diseases.
History and Background
Infectious organisms have existed long before the evolution of human species, which explains that most of the infectious ailments that could be witnessed today may have been in existence since the emergence of the human species, while others may only have developed recently. As a result, global history has continually been intertwined with the significant implications that infectious ailments have throughout history had on populations. Evidence of infectious ailments that include smallpox and poliomyelitis were traced among Egyptian mummies in about 3000 years ago (Stephen 74). Hippocrates also documented about infectious diseases that were passed on through water, air, and contaminated places. Therefore, he associated infectious diseases with climate, food, and living conditions. Other scholars established a strong correlation between miasmas and infectious diseases. The introduction of microscope in 1600s allowed for scientific visualization and the subsequent identification of infectious organisms. This allowed for the introduction of vaccines that were used to control and prevent the spread of infectious ailments (Mina 81). This resulted in the introduction of varying control measures that included improved personal hygiene, sensitization on public health matters, and community sanitation. The importance of proper nutrition was also stressed to help address the issue of infectious ailments. The dawn of 20th century introduced chemotherapy and antibiotics within the infectious ailments’ spectrum. This enhanced intensive dependence on vaccination plans and health education to perpetuate efforts intended to prevent the spread of infectious diseases (Maher 95).
Despite these efforts, occurrence and recurrence of infectious diseases has increasingly become a significant problem of concern worldwide. The US Institute of Medical Research in 1991, for example, appointed a committee of experts to conduct an inquiry relating to the emergence of infectious microorganisms. They explained that certain factors that included human demographics, economic advancement, globalization, international travel, environmental conditions, and industrial technology could be used to explain the occurrence and reoccurrence of infectious ailments (Daniel 126). Today, new causative factors that mainly include those associated with the human and animal populations have been linked to the occurrence and reoccurrence of infectious diseases. Policy and political elites have raised important points that help to exemplify the various ways in which infectious illnesses can impact the human population. The HIV viruses, for example, exhibit the severe implications that infectious ailments can have on human population around the world (Maher 101). HIV/AIDS has been ranked among the leading infectious diseases attributing to severe cases of death and economic deterioration. The economic havoc attributed to this disease has raised concern among the world populations and its impact may be felt for decades to come. Although efforts to address this issue have continually been put in place, forecasts indicate that infectious diseases may attribute to complex implications associated with resource distribution to help address this issue. This explains the fact that infectious diseases may perpetuate an unbearable burden for the future populations (Stephen 89).
Elite Ideological Viewpoints on the Issue
Ideological elites have posed varying viewpoints that indicate the different aspects that the state would employ in addressing the issue of infectious diseases. Contemporary conservative ideologists view infectious diseases as a complex issue that is usually perpetuated by unhealthy practices that ultimately violate the overall health of a wider society. Such practices may include living in unhealthy conditions, eating contaminated foodstuffs, and engaging in unhealthy sexual practices. This issue can be addressed through employing preventive measures, and hence foreign-funded health programs should not be diversified to treatment programs but should only be limited to prevention programs (Stephen 92). Conversely, the contemporary liberal elites view infectious diseases as a serious issue that can condemn death if available preventive measures are not properly integrated with treatment measures (Fuhrer 82). According to the liberal elites, justifications posed by the conservative elites on the need to focus on the prevention-only perspective have proven to be medically and morally insufficient. This is because the conservative elites tend to ignore the treatment perspective, which the liberal elites have termed as having the potential to condemn death among many populations, most of whom are already at the peak of their lives (Mina 92). According to the conservative elites, a well-informed population can be able to effectively prevent the spread of infectious diseases, and hence health practitioners should concern themselves with equipping the public with health education to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases. The liberal elites, however, argue that an informed population can lack any motivation to learn about infectious ailments if there is no possibility of obtaining any form of treatment in case they are diagnosed with an infectious disease. They argue that integrating treatment with health education would ensure that prevention of infectious diseases is enhanced. Conservative elites argue that infectious diseases become a serious social problem because the society is not well equipped with relevant skills that can help to prevent further spread of this ailment among other members of the society (Maher 107). They argue that overstressing the need to integrate prevention and treatment has continually intensified the problem since most people do not have sufficient access to expensive drugs. The liberal elites on the other hand argue that infectious diseases have continued to become a persistent social problem because preventive measures are often used alone without integrating treatment as a supportive package. They argue that curbing infectious diseases has increasingly worsened because better medications that have continually been discovered have failed to be effectively integrated with preventive measures. Conservative elites only suggest that the state should support preventive programs that mainly include improved public education to help address the issue of infectious diseases. Liberal elites, however, suggest that the state should improve foreign funding on treatment programs to help meet the high medication costs while reducing the impact of infectious diseases (Fuhrer 99).
Public Viewpoints on the Issue
New cases of infectious ailments have generated a great level of anxiety among members of the civil community, which has in return produced significant media reporting. Poll data collected from the American population between 2006 and 2012 indicated that public opinion in relation to severity of infectious diseases was event driven in that it intensified when there were new cases of infection among humans or animals but decreased when ailments were contained. The public perception threats posed by infectious ailments were highest when new outbreaks were in their initial stages but continued to decrease when such outbreaks were put under control (Mina 95). This pattern of opinion is distinct from the elites’ position in that they relate severity of infectious ailments with availability of prevention as well as treatment programs. Certain characteristics among citizens have proven to significantly influence the public opinion about infectious diseases. The human rights as well as the biomedical experts, for example, influence the degree of public perception about severity of infectious ailments and the subsequent need to support new health policies intended to curb new cases of infection (Mina 99).
Conclusion and Recommendation
Infectious diseases have proven to draw a significant level of attention, particularly because their impact can affect the overall wellbeing of a given society. Historical evidence has shown that cases of infectious ailments have been in existence since the beginning of human species with new cases being constantly discovered with continued evolution of these species. Conservative elites have argued that this issue is complex and can only be addressed through improved public education to perpetuate effective prevention. Liberal elites have argued that the issue can be addressed through integrating preventive and treatment measures to help curb the ultimate impact that this issue has on the wider society. While ideological elites have continued to differ in opinion, infectious diseases will continue to be a severe threat over the next four years. This is because conservative and liberal elites will continue to disagree on whether prevention measures should be integrated with treatment to help address complexity of this issue. While liberal elites agree that prevention can be enhanced if it is integrated with treatment, conservative elites refute this argument on basis of growing treatment costs that continues to grow as days go by. This issue will continue to be important, and hence the government will have to come up with suitable means through which prevention programs can be integrated with treatment programs. This can include increasing foreign funding, which should be used to support both the prevention and treatment programs.
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