Man’s Battle with Disease
YES, sickness is an enemy, and man has fought a continuing battle against it for centuries. In the past 150 years, doctors have won some notable victories. Improved sanitation, as well as new vaccines and drugs, has, in some lands, helped make such ancient scourges as bubonic plague just a fading memory.
But the battle is far from over. Problems remain, some of them despite the advances of medical science, as the following box shows. Even if science were to find the remedies for all modern diseases, there would still remain the greatest scourge of all—death. Will there be any relief from this situation?
[Box on page 4]
MORE GET SICK THAN NEED TO BECAUSE—
* A large section of the human race suffers from malnutrition. This has led to many cases of rickets, scurvy, blindness, goiter and the like. Moreover, an undernourished person is open to other sicknesses, such as tuberculosis and pneumonia. These diseases could be greatly reduced by the simple expedient of the better feeding of poor people.
* Malnutrition poses a threat even in advanced countries. Why? “Changes have occurred in the diet of Americans that could cause a wave of malnutrition (from both overconsumption and underconsumption) as damaging to health in the United States as the widespread, contagious diseases of the early part of the century. Overconsumption of fats, sugar, salt, and alcohol has been related to 6 of the 10 leading causes of death . . . heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, and cirrhosis of the liver.”—“Health,” 1979.
* The World Health Organization estimates that 80 percent of all sickness in the world is caused by inadequate water or sanitation. Between 10 million and 25 million people a year die because of disease brought on by unclean or inadequate water. About the same number of children die each year from one of these diseases—diarrhea—as victims were killed each year by the first world war.
* The air we breathe is being poisoned by fumes from industry and automobiles. The following headlines tell the story: “Air Pollution Victims in Tokyo on Rise”; “Smog Cloud Thickens over Choking Greeks”; “Toxic Smoke Chokes Mexico City”; “Breathing Indoors May Be Hazardous”; “U.S. Study Warns of Extensive Problems from Carbon Dioxide Pollution.” Meanwhile, creation’s great air purifiers, the trees, are being cut down at a rate of from 25 million to 50 million acres yearly. A crisis of unknown proportions lies ahead.
* Immorality has led to an epidemic of venereal disease. The smoking of tobacco has caused an epidemic of lung cancer, emphysema, bronchitis and coronary heart disease. Recent studies indicate that not only smokers but also their marriage partners and children suffer.
* These are some of the practices and social problems that are preventing even existing medical knowledge from being applied successfully for the alleviation of the sicknesses of mankind.