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World Health Day

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Image is from Easypromos

What is World Health Day?

The World Health Day is a global celebration by people from all over the world and is held each year on 7th April. The day is sponsored by the World Health Organization which held its first assembly in Geneva in the year 1948 and it was then that the World Health day was founded. It was first celebrated in 1950 and has been celebrated since. Each year, WHO carries out a variety of events that rotate around a specific theme. Some of the themes that have been used before are;

  • 2003- Shape of the future life
  • 2005- Road Safety
  • 2007- International Health Security
  • 2008- Protecting Health From Climate Change

The annual event is used to raise public awareness towards issues concerning health and safety. The theme is chosen to guide activities for the whole year. A good example is the Polio Eradication Theme which was in 1995, most countries are now free from polio due to the concerted efforts that were led by WHO.

WHO target global health issues from where programs are derived from and organized by WHO and other health organizations such as schools, NGOs and even governments. This day is celebrated to remember the establishment of WHO which is under the United Nations. WHO has played a significant role in combating diseases such as smallpox, TB, chickenpox and leprosy especially in developing countries.

Duties and responsibilities of WHO

  1. Promote development- poor health is mainly attributed to poverty, therefore, uplifting the economic status of a population leads to improved health.
  2. Strengthen Health Systems- In poor countries, the health systems are usually weak or lacking, WHO provides medicines, relevant technology and infrastructure to improve them.
  3. Reduce health risk- WHO is entrusted to reduce or avoid the outbreak of new or existing diseases.
  4. Promote research and gather information- WHO requires accurate data to set health regulations and therefore consults with world leading authorities and institutions to come up with technical guidelines.
  5. Enhance partnerships- by working with various governments and health organizations, information is easily shared and WHO can disseminate technical guidelines that are supposed to be used in building health systems
  6. Improve Performance- WHO is a large organizations with set goals and therefore it needs to constantly evaluate itself to ensure that it improves it performance by implementing results based management.

How World Health Day is celebrated

World Health Day is celebrated worldwide by governments and NGOs who organize activities that relate to public health issues so as to create awareness. Organizations that participate in this activities highlight their efforts through media reports such as press releases. Health authorities make their pledges in support of health issues in the domain. Other activities that are carried on include; debates on related topics, exhibitions, essay writing competitions and award ceremonies aimed at recognizing efforts of individuals and institutions in tackling health issues.

Why World Health Day is celebrated?

WHO focuses on increasing the life expectancy by promoting good health practices and some of the objectives of why the day is celebrated yearly are;

  1. To increase awareness on the causes and prevention of various diseases
  2. To provide detailed knowledge to the masses and relevant institutions on ways of preventing various diseases
  3. To encourage the vulnerable group of people to speak out and be heard by relevant authorities.
  4. To promote self-care among the people
  5. To encourage world health authorities to make their own effort in promoting the agendas of World Health day
  6. To protect families and other vulnerable people who are prone to diseases

 

 

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Understanding Immunotherapy

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Image is from Cancer Research Catalyst – American Association for Cancer Research

Immunotherapy also known as biologic therapy is a type of treatment that induces or enhances the body’s immune system instead of using medicines. This process is usually done to treat cancer by stimulating the immune system to become more active in attacking cancer cells or by sustaining the body with man-made immune system proteins.

How Does the Immune System Work?

The immune system is the sum of all components that work together to maintain the normal functions of body organs. These components include but not limited to white blood cells, nutrients, and organ functions.

When the surface of skin is wounded, white blood cells work to heal the wound by eliminating foreign substances. When the wound is larger, it requires a lot of white blood cells to cover the wounded area. This will result in the appearance of lymph nodes near the area. This is where white blood cells build up.

In the process of eliminating foreign substances such as bacteria, germs, and cancer cells, body nutrients such as vitamin C may work to repair the damaged tissues and collagen.

Meanwhile, body organs work together to prevent disease-causing agents to stay inside the body. Kidney works to filter toxins, which are excreted through the urine. Digestive system separate important substances needed by the body from waste. The heart continues to pump blood to carry white blood cells and red blood cells needed to heal wounds.

These are some examples of how the immune system work. The immune system is not a single substance nor a single organ. It is an integration of several body systems that work together to protect the body from certain diseases.

The Immune System as Treatment for Cancer

There still no single medicine that can cure cancer. So far, an effective way to suppress the spread of cancer cells is through the immune system. The immune system serves as the police inside the body. It detects unwanted substances that may infect any area of the body.

However, cancer cells are not detected by the immune system as they appear to be like normal cells by of sending signals to the PD-1 CTLA-4 receptors. These signals confuse the immune system. This is why even a healthy body with strong immune system cannot prevent cancer.

Nonetheless, there is a way to make cancer cells detected by the immune system. The use of immunotherapy drugs such as inhibitors can disrupt the signals that are sent by cancer cells. This will let the cancer cells exposed to the immune system. Cytokines and cancer vaccines are examples of these inhibitors.

Monoclonal Antibodies

Monoclonal antibodies are man-made immune system proteins. These proteins attach to cancer cells thereby flagging the cancer cells to be recognized by the immune system. On the other hand, monoclonal antibodies work to block the abnormal proteins in cancer cells, so they can also be used to prevent cancer cells from spreading.

These are examples of man-made antibodies:

  • Pembrolizumab (Keytruda)
  • Nivolumab (Opdivo)
  • Ipilimumab (Yervoy)

Non-Specific Immunotherapies

Non-specific immunotherapies are used to boost the immune system to directly stop and kill cancer cells. Examples of these are interferons and interleukin’s.

Conclusion

The use of the immune system is still the most recommended method in the treatment of cancer. It only needs the help of inhibitors to let it work properly on the target. The problem with the immune system is that it is not intelligent enough to keep cancer cells from being hidden. This is why there is still a need for human intervention with the help of man-made antibodies.

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