Lesson 3 Communicable Diseases

Communicable disease is one that is spread from one person to another through physical contact with an infected person, direct contact with an infected surface, through the air and from a bite (from an insect or animal). Over the past few years, sanitation, food control, vaccines and antibiotics have managed to confine communicable diseases, thereby saving the lives of millions of people. However, socioeconomic, behavioural, environmental factors alongside with international travel and migration lead to the spread of these diseases.

Source: https://unsplash.com   

  • Overcrowded housings
  • Inadequate hygiene conditions
  • Lack of sanitation
  • Limitedaccessto health care
  • Undernutrition, smoking, stress(resulting in lower resistance to infection)

Unfortunately, due to socioeconomic factors, certain populations are more prone to infectious diseases. 

Migrant children are found to be more exposed to respiratory infections and diarrheal illnesses. More specifically, they often suffer from chronic infections like tuberculosis, hepatitis B and C, malaria, intestinal parasites, syphilis and Human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 or 2.

Moreover, a study found that unaccompanied refugee children have higher risk of being colonised with multidrug resistant bacteria (meaning bacteria that are resistant to the majority of antibiotics). This could lead children to develop very severe infections that need specialised hospital care.

In addition, children that come from low SES families are in higher risk of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria.

It is a fact that following basic hygiene rules and vaccination schedules are two well established methods towards fighting communicable diseases. 

The UN World Water Development Report of 2021 underlines the right to clean water and sanitation by equitable access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services as it is essential for human health and well-being. It is no wonder why “Clean Water and Sanitation” ranks sixth among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that have been established by the United Nations.

Nevertheless, some families that live under poverty still do not have access to basic hygiene infrastructures, At the same time, the refugee population is constantly growing throughout the years, while the access to WASH remains limited. In addition, accommodation options which are offered to refugees often have noxious hygiene conditions that worsen their health. 

Absence of adequate clean water sources and basic sanitation can lead to communicable diseases. Additionally, bad hygiene and fecal-oral diseases lead to one another, thereby creating a vicious circle that can possibly cause an epidemic crisis.

Click here to learn more about the “Clean Water and Sanitation” goal

Source: https://www.who.int/multi-media/details/health-promotion-1

It is a fact that economic struggles and/or displacement  can act as barriers towards scheduled doctor visits because parents have to set different priorities in order to provide for their families. However, vaccination is very important for children as it protects them from various severe diseases. Therefore, children who are not vaccinated or partially vaccinated should have extra shots in order to comply with the national immunisation schedules.

Source:  https://pixabay.com

Low vaccination percentages have been shown for the following diseases:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Measles, mumps, rubella
  • Varicella
  • Tetanus and diphtheria