Women, The Family And Health
Infectious Diseases in Family Health: A Challenge for Women, their Role in Care and Prevention by Valeria Prado, M.D.
Valeria Prado is Director of the Microbiology Program, ICBM, Faculty of Medicine, University of Chile
Recent information from WHO indicates that 30% of deaths worldwide are caused by infectious diseases, among them tuberculosis, diarrhea, malaria, acute respiratory diseases, measles and tetanus; diseases that can significantly be decreased by use of vaccines or be treated with specific drugs.
To be a woman is to be pivotal in human development and society. Women are relevant promoters of health and education within the family and it is important to reinforce their participation and control of infectious diseases.
During the last 20 years, cultural, sociodemographics and socioeconomic changes have occured related to the role of women within the society. These changes must be considered when designing capacitation strategies for women as active health promoters in order to overcome some prevalent problems in infectious diseases.
a) Women usually decide when and how to utilize health programes and services, eg. vaccines, oral rehydration and when to ask for medical attention.
b) Women have been increasingly incorporated into the working population. As a consequence, a great proportion of young children attend daycare centers. This new situation has cost in terms of incidence of infectious diseases. Children attending daycare have a higher incidence of Acute Otitis Media, diarrhea and respiratory infections. Also, these children receive antibiotics more frequently than children at home, increasing the risk for adquisition of antimicrobial resistance to pathogens. Some studies developed in Chile show that children attending daycare are colonized by potential respiratory pathogens in significant proportions, and carriage is largely by antimicrobial resistant microogranisms.
In terms of care and prevention of infectious diseases, we believe that women can play a crucial role in many aspects but I would like to focus on two targets:
a) to help in the fight against the emergence and dissemination of antimicrobial resistance, promoting rational use of antibiotics, avoiding automedication, avoiding misuse of antibiotics for viral infections as an antipyretic, inappropriate dosification and duration of treatment.
b) to stimulate a culture for vaccination. To share the importance of prevention by vaccines in the fight against infectious diseases by promoting the probramatic use of vaccines, adequate coverage, avoiding those opportunities due to non-valis causes such as flu, allergic children, premature children.
To reinforce the concept that vaccines are safe and useful, the best example is smallpox erradicated from the planet through adequate implementation of vaccine programes. In addition, we have controlled poliomielitis and significantly diminished mortality and complications of different infectious diseases.
Last Modified: June 05, 2010