Evolutionary, historical and political economic perspectives on health and disease
- William Stewart, a US surgeon testified before congress that eradication of infectious diseases was at hand and will
be wiped out soon. He claimed smallpox, bubonic plague and malaria were thigns of the past. He said it was only a
matter of time till other diseases would be eradicated.
- WHO issued a report in 2001 in which they showed that most of the death especially in third world countries were
due to parasitic and respiratory diseases now. Other deaths due to AIDS, tb and malaria.
- Stewart was unable to judge the potency that such parasitic pathogens and insects would cause more harm then
- Therefore it can be said that humans continue to cause ecological disturbances that inversly accelerate changes in
antibiotic and pesticide resistance, therefore causing death of millions of people.
- The trend of declining infectious diseases and rise of chronic diseases was seen as a result to the the increasing
health and economic developments.
- The changign pattern of disease was the basis of an epidemiological theory porposed by Abdul Omran in 1971. He
observed a change in disease patterns that caused a shift in trend from pathogenic diseases to man made diseases.
- His theory illustrated the role that polution and other by products of the industrial age played in the disease
- Social stratification originally evolved as it brough benefits to emerging elites. Thsu these resources that brought
benefits to few came at the expense of many.
- When organisms appropriate other as continuing sources of food and energy, this relationship is is known as
- Social stratification and within societies and between them is an evolutionary stratergy that we consider –
- Parasitism original reffers to a human social relationship.
- According to oxford dictionary, parasitism is a relationship in which a wealthy patron would pay a person to dine
with and entertain him.
- According to armelagos and collegues, human populations have gone through an earlier epidemiological transition
and are currently going through a 3 one.rd
- The shift from foraging to primary food production represented the first epidemiological transition.
- Domestication of plants and animals in the neolithic era caused increase in infectious diseases. Therefore increase in
populations, density, domestication of animals, cultivation and social stratification represented the second
- The second epidemiological transition was originally Omran’s conceptualization about disease pattern.
- Lastly, we are living in the third epidemiiological transition in which antibiotics are loosing their effectiveness. This
period is chracterized by the emergence of chronic diseases. Paul Farmer:
- He argues that emerging diseases are only discovered when they have an impact on americans
- He also claims that emerging diseases are usually presented as a result of human behavior or microbial changes.
- He critisizes that it is these social changes tha inflluence inequality in an increasingly interconnected world and how
these inequalitites effect the disease process.
In this century, the widening gap between those on the top and the bottom of the social hierarchy occurs both within and
between societies and is greater than ever before in human history. This gap has serious health implications. While disease
and death are inevitable, a major cause of unnecessary, premature, preventable disease and death is extreme poverty.
- Early era species or parasites
- They include: hair and body lice, pinworms, and protozoa
- Souvenier species whose primary hosts are non humans but may accidently affect humans
- Sources of zoonitic disease: insect bites, processign and eating contaminated meat, and animal bites
- Avian tb, leptospirosis, fever, scrub typhus, tetanus, trichinoses are among examples of zoonotic diseases.
First epidemioilogical transition:
- Development of primary food production is the basis of changing disease pattern
- The rapid increase in population size and density, sedentarism, the domestication of animals, extensive ecological
disruption from cultivation and the rise of social and economic inequality are all factors that increase infectious
- The political and economic changes with the development of agriculture created social classes with differential
access to resources, a system that continues to this day.
- Sedentarism increased parasitic infection because of proximity of the living areas to source of waters and the areas
where human waste was deposited.
- The contiguity of habitation to the space where domesticated animals were kept, created a cluster of disease
- Parasites, such as tapeworms associated with domesticated goats, sheep, cattle, pigs, and fowl, infected early
- Humans were considered the source of infections in cattle, sheep and goats.
- The milk, hair, and skin of domesticates, as well as animal dust, transmitted anthrax,