1.1.3 Prevention and control measures
The health problems due to communicable diseases can be tackled by the application of relatively easy measures at different levels of the health system. Here, we will use some examples at the individual and community levels, which are relevant to your work as a Health Extension Practitioner.
Some measures can be applied before the occurrence of a communicable disease to protect a community from getting it, and to reduce the number of cases locally in the future. These are called prevention measures. For example, vaccination of children with the measles vaccine is a prevention measure, because the vaccine will protect children from getting measles. Vaccination refers to administration of vaccines to increase resistance of a person against infectious diseases.
Once a communicable disease occurs and is identified in an individual, measures can be applied to reduce the severity of the disease in that person, and to prevent transmission of the infectious agent to other members of the community. These are called control measures. For example, once a child becomes infected with measles, treatment helps reduce the severity of the disease, and possibly prevents the child’s death, but at the same time it decreases the risk of transmission to other children in the community. In this context, treatment of measles is considered a control measure.
Later in this Module, you will learn that the widespread use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) is recommended as a prevention measure for malaria, which is transmitted to people by mosquitoes. If you promote the effective use of mosquito nets in your community, how would you expect the number of malaria cases to change over time?
An increase in the effective use of mosquito nets should reduce the number of cases of malaria.
Next we look at the main ways in which infectious agents are transmitted.