Knowledge is the enemy of disease. That is a powerful metaphor.
Applying what we know already will have a bigger impact on health and disease than any drug or technology likely to be introduced in the next decade.
But if disease is to be defeated, in addition to the undeniable need for new knowledge, existing knowledge must be applied in ways that will improve health care, especially in underprivileged populations. There are huge gaps in knowledge application, and a link is needed between knowledge and effective decision-making and health-policy development: appropriate resources are needed to construct such a link. - The Lancet
A mother is the family’s Chief Health Officer
According to a recent analysis published in The Lancet, half the reduction in child mortality over the past 40 years can be directly attributed to better education for women. If a woman knows better how to care for her child she will demand more, so strengthening her ability to care.
For every one-year increase in the average education of reproductive-age women, a country experienced a 9.5 percent decrease in child deaths.
A mother's education affects her children's health in myriad ways, said Christopher J.L. Murray, a co-author of the study.
According to Murray, better-educated women are more likely to understand disease-prevention measures such as vaccines and mosquito nets and to use them. They are more likely to take a sick child to a clinic early. They more probably understand germ theory and how to set clean water and sanitation as household priorities.
Improving education tends to increase national wealth, which in turn improves population's health. But the new study shows that improving education directly reduces child mortality — and more effectively than increasing gross domestic product.
Mothers are often referred to as the family’s Chief Health Officer, and are increasingly using mobile phones to manage and track their family’s health and wellness information.
A recent study showed that mothers index higher than the general population in most categories when it comes to mobile phone activities, and health was no exception.
One in three mothers used her mobile phone for health purposes, compared to 22% of the general population. Further, the study conveyed that nine out of 10 mothers who own smartphones used the devices to research health conditions.
Women are not only more comfortable with technology than they were a year ago and are embracing mobile phones for a variety of activities, but are also more active than men in using medical and health-related phone applications.
People are dying for lack of knowledge
Lack of basic healthcare knowledge leads to needless death and suffering in developing countries. Most deaths are due to failure to provide life-saving interventions - interventions that are often locally available, but are simply not provided.
"It is tragic that so many children continue to die unnecessarily for want of simple, low-cost interventions that are often locally available. It is even more tragic that many of these children would have been saved if only their mothers, fathers, family caregivers and, indeed, health workers, had basic healthcare knowledge to recognise serious illness requiring urgent, appropriate, life-saving action."
Neil Pakenham-Walsh - Coordinator, HIFA2015 - Co-Director, Global Healthcare Information Network
'Why do over 20% of children die in some poor countries, while in others only 2% die? We examine this question using survey data covering 278,000 children in 45 low-income countries.
We find that parents' education and a mother's propensity to seek out modern healthcare are empirically important when explaining child survival, while the prevalence of common diseases, along with infrastructure such as improved water and sanitation, are not.
Using a GINI coefficient we construct for treatment services, we find that public and private health systems are 'equally unequal', that is, both tend to favor children in relatively well-off households, and neither appears superior at improving outcomes in very poor communities. These facts contrast with a common view that a much-expanded public health sector is necessary to reduce child mortality.
Instead, we believe the empirical evidence points to the essential role of parents as advocates for their child's health. If we can provide better health knowledge and general education to parents, a private healthcare sector can arise to meet demand. We provide evidence that this alternative route to low mortality is indeed a reason behind the current success of many countries with low child mortality, including Viet Nam, Indonesia, Egypt, and the Indian state of Kerala. Finally, we calculate a realistic package of interventions that target education, health knowledge and treatment seeking could reduce child mortality by 32%.'