WiRED Marks Publication of Journal Article on Disease Prevention
Underlining the importance of health promotion in underserved areas


Emergency medical treatment in health crises and natural disasters makes headlines. Disease prevention and health promotion often go unnoticed in the media and so largely go ignored by the public.


The Medical Journal of Southern California Clinicians recently published an article entitled “The Quiet Work of Disease Prevention,” co-written by WiRED International Director Gary Selnow, Ph.D., and WiRED Board member William Crano, Ph.D.


The authors write, “Prevention measures that can stem the spread of a disease and reduce the incidence and severity of a chronic illness lack drama and intuitive appeal and so become a difficult sell….When prevention works, it yields many benefits, but its virtues are defined by the negative, by what has not happened, and that becomes a challenge.”


The article goes on to discuss how to message prevention as a positive health outcome. The writers cite examples, such as linking the benefits of exercise to strength and energy, stressing the action and positive outcome of antibiotic treatment of strep throat to avoid rheumatic heart disease, and promoting vaccinations through the idea of providing community immunity.


The authors conclude: “Where medical treatment is limited, prevention is especially important. [WiRED’s] prevention programs have taught people about HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Zika, polio, and dozens of other infections. They also have provided tens of thousands of people with prevention training for diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and other chronic conditions, again all in places where prevention is the only reasonable approach to intervention.”


WiRED sees an unfortunate disparity between the enormous benefits of prevention and the limited media coverage and funder support for it. Prevention may lack the sizzle of a surgical team air-dropping into an affected region, but it can pack a powerful punch to reduce the spread of disease and head off chronic illnesses. Prevention shifts a good measure of responsibility to grassroots communities; WiRED’s mission is to teach communities how to assume this responsibility and to participate actively in their own good health.