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Rx for Survival — A Global Health Challenge

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Glossary

alternative medicine:
Treatments or practices outside the sphere of the mainstream medical community, the effectiveness of which are not based in scientific explanations.
antibiotic:
A drug that stops microbes from growing and reproducing.
antibody:
A substance produced by the body's immune system that kills or weakens microbes.
antiretroviral medication:
The main type of treatment for HIV or AIDS, consisting of drugs that must be taken every day for the rest of patient's life. While antiretroviral medication is not a cure, it can keep people from becoming ill for many years.
bacterium:
Member of a group of microbes that cause many common infections.
bioterrorism:
The employment of living agents such as viruses, bacteria, and other biological toxins to attack or intimidate societies or governments, often for political or ideological reasons.
bush meat:
Wildlife not traditionally considered edible that is hunted and used for food, usually illegally.
capital market:
The market in which funds are raised through the sale and trade of medium- and long-term debt instruments. Institutions participating in the capital market include banks, the bond market, and the stock market.
carrier:
A person who harbors microorganisms that cause a particular disease and who can spread the disease to others without experiencing symptoms of infection himself or herself.
cause:
The factor directly responsible for a given effect. The cause of a disease is directly responsible for its incidence and should not be confused with elements that "are followed by," "are correlated with," or "contribute to" given effects. For instance, HIV is the virus which causes AIDS, while various factors such as smoking and family history contribute to an individual's risk for certain cancers.
cerebrovascular disease:
Hemorrhage or blockage of blood vessels in the brain that leads to brain damage, commonly called a stroke.
childhood diseases:
A term commonly used to describe preventable, often lethal, diseases that afflict children under 5, including diarrheal dehydration, acute respiratory infections (ARI), measles, and malaria. Such diseases are frequently complicated by malnutrition.
child survival:
A goal of programs aimed at preventing or treating common diseases of children.
collapse:
The complete or near-complete breakdown of a national or regional economy, often followed by economic depression, social chaos, and civil unrest.
communicable disease:
A disease that can be transmitted from one human to another by physical contact or close proximity.
consumption:
Archaic term for tuberculosis.
contributes to:
Is a determining factor, though not a direct, singular cause for a given phenomenon or outcome.
correlated with:
Accompanied by; e.g., when two factors frequently occur together. Correlations do not imply a causal effect, or at least no causal effect has yet been proven.
cure:
A remedy or treatment used to restore health. That an actual cure for a disease is found is a very infrequent event, and announcements should be viewed with skepticism. In most cases, "treatment" is the more appropriate term.
dengue fever:
An infectious, mosquito-borne viral disease of the tropics that causes fever, rash, and severe pain in the joints.
dependent age population:
The nonworking population; in general, those under age 15 and over age 65. The dependent age population, measured against the working age population, is used to determine the age dependency ratio in a nation or an economy; i.e., the number of people in the general population supported by those who work.
developed nation:
A country with a relatively high standard of living, achieved primarily through social, economic, and technological infrastructure. The nations of Europe (including Russia), the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand are referred to as developed, or industrialized, nations.
developing nation:
A country with a low standard of living, generally indicated by severe poverty, low income and education levels, high birth rate, and poorly developed social, economic, and technological infrastructure. This term has become favored over "Third World," which gained popularity in the mid-20th century. Many countries of Africa, Asia (except Japan), Latin America, and Oceania (except Australia and New Zealand) are referred to as developing nations.
economic liberalization:
Also liberalization. An economic policy that limits the role of government in an effort to make a market economy function more efficiently. Liberalization often includes privatization and deregulation of state-run industries, as well the reduction or removal of tariffs and other trade barriers.
eliminated:
A disease is no longer endemic in a given region or country, but cases still occur from sources outside that region. Rubella has been eliminated in the United States, but remains epidemic in Africa.
endemic:
Natural to, prevalent within, and confined to a particular area. Malaria is endemic to the tropics.
epidemic:
The relatively rapid spread of a disease to large numbers of a population or to areas where it is not normally prevalent. A flu epidemic is likely each winter.
epidemiology:
The branch of medicine dealing with the incidence and prevalence of disease in large populations and with detection of the sources and causes of epidemics.
eradicated:
A disease no longer occurs within a region or country from any source inside or outside that area. Smallpox has been eradicated worldwide.
fertility rate:
The average number of children born to a woman who lives beyond her childbearing years, worldwide on average between ages 15 and 49.
food security:
Having access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.
fragmentation:
The division of responsibilities for public health and other programs among disparate governmental agencies and organizations which often results in a lack of coordination and effectiveness in the programs' implementation, excessive bureaucracy, and duplication of efforts.
genomics:
The study of chromosomes, genes, and their functions in search of aspects helpful in spotting, preventing, or controlling disease through drug treatments or vaccinations.
global disease burden:
The total incidence, prevalence, and severity of a given disease computed in Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs). One DALY represents the loss of one year of equivalent health.
global health:
Health problems, issues, and concerns that transcend national boundaries, may be influenced by circumstances or experiences in other countries, and are best addressed by cooperative actions and solutions. (Defined by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies)
global health equity:
Fairness in basic health care measures for rich and poor alike, for example in access to safe water, adequate nutrition, immunizations, antibiotics, and reproductive health care.
gross domestic product (GDP):
The total value of goods and services produced within a country in the span of a year.
gross national income (GNI):
Previously known as the gross national product (GNP). See gross national product for definition.
gross national product (GNP):
The total value of goods and services produced within one nation's economy in a year. This includes goods and services produced both domestically and abroad. Sometimes known as gross national income (GNI).
health indicators:
Measures that reflect or indicate the state of health of persons in a defined population; e.g., infant mortality rate.
herd immunity:
The state in which immunization levels are so high that even the small minority not immunized will still be protected.
households:
The people living together in a house collectively.
human genome:
The genetic map of the human body's DNA, including chromosomes and genes.
hydration:
The provision or restoration of water to bodily tissue. Death from dehydration is a common killer of children who suffer from severe, prolonged diarrhea.
hygiene:
A condition of cleanliness that helps maintain health; in medicine, an absence of disease-producing microbes.
immune system:
A body system that defends against disease by producing antibodies.
immunity:
A condition in which the body has experienced and fought off a microbe attack and possesses the antibodies to fight them off next time.
income distribution:
The various levels of income existing within a given population. Larger differences in income are considered "worse" in terms of distribution; smaller differences, "better."
indicates:
See "suggests."
indoor air pollution:
A major contributing factor to respiratory infections in the developing world resulting from the burning of solid fuels (dung, crop waste, and coal) used for cooking and heating.
infection:
Disease caused by an invading microbe.
infrastructure:
The basic services, facilities, and installations needed for the functioning of societies and communities, such as water and power lines, transportation and communications systems, and public institutions including schools, hospitals, and prisons.
inoculation:
The process of introducing a microbe into the body to produce a controlled infection that will provide immunity to a disease. (See also "vaccinate.")
ischemic:
Restricted in blood flow and therefore deprived of oxygen. Ischemic heart disease is a major killer; ischemic brain damage may result from stroke.
leptospirosis:
A bacterial disease characterized by a skin rash and flu-like symptoms; caused by a bacterium excreted by rodents.
life expectancy:
The average length of time a baby born today can be expected to live.
market economy:
A country whose economic decisions, including pricing and resource allocation, are primarily determined by the free market; i.e., individual consumers and firms interacting with them.
Marshall Plan:
Formally known as the European Recovery Program, a U.S. program of loans and economic assistance -- some $13 billion worth -- implemented between 1947 and 1952 to aid rebuilding efforts in Western Europe following World War II.
microbe:
A microscopic organism, or microorganism, such as a bacterium, virus, or fungus, especially one that transmits disease.
microfinance:
The provision of small loans (microcredit) to poor people to help them engage in productive activities or grow very small businesses. The term may also include a broader range of services, including credit, savings, and insurance.
micronutrients:
Vitamins and minerals or chemicals essential to health, such as niacin, iron, and iodine.
Millennium Project:

Formed after the 2000 Millennium Summit of world leaders, an independent advisory body of the United Nations dedicated to alleviating world poverty, ill health, and suffering by 2015 through the pursuit of eight broad goals with indicators and interim targets. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are as follows:

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce child mortality
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
  8. Develop a global partnership for development
morbidity:
A state of injury, sickness, or disease.
mortality:
Death, or the frequency or number of deaths.
multidrug resistance:
A microbe's ability to evolve to a state in which it can resist many different drugs designed to treat a particular disease.
natural selection:
The process in nature by which only the organisms best adapted to their environment tend to survive and transmit their genetic characteristics in increasing numbers while those less adaptive are eliminated.
neonatal:
Referring to the first four weeks of a child's life.
noncommunicable disease (NCD):
A disease that is not spread through human contact or humans being in proximity to one another.
non-governmental organization (NGO):
A nonprofit group largely funded by private contributions that operates outside of institutionalized government or political structures. In general, NGOs have as their agendas social, political, and environmental concerns.
obstetric fistula:
An opening between a girl's or woman's vagina and her bladder or rectum, or both. Usually caused by prolonged obstructed labor, it results in uncontrollable leakage of urine or feces or both, which leads to infections, odor, and often social ostracism.
outbreak:
Synonymous with "epidemic." Sometimes the preferred word, as it may escape the sensationalism associated with the word "epidemic." Alternatively, a localized as opposed to generalized occurrence of a disease.
pandemic:
The spread of a disease throughout a country, continent, or the world.
pathogen:
From the Greek for "birth of pain," a biological agent that can cause infection in its host.
population dynamics:
A term that describes the ways in which a given population's numbers grow and shrink over time, as controlled by birth, death, and emigration or immigration.
population pyramid:
A bar chart, arranged vertically, that shows the distribution of a population by age and sex. By convention, the younger ages are at the bottom, with males on the left and females on the right.
postnatal care:
Health care provided following childbirth to both mother and infant.
poverty:
  • extreme poverty: Characterized as subsistence on less than $1 per day per person and entailing chronic hunger and an absence of health care. This level of poverty, measured according to an internationally applicable poverty line, has also been dubbed "the poverty that kills" and is referred to as the qualification for "absolute poverty" globally. According to the World Bank, approximately 1.1 billion people live in conditions of extreme poverty.
  • moderate poverty: In absolute terms, defined as subsistence on $1 to $2 a day. Moderate poverty is understood as a level of income sufficient to meet basic needs such as water, food, and shelter, but falling short in terms of the ability to afford education or health care. The ability to meet basic needs, however, remains vulnerable to personal setbacks such as the loss of any income due to a change in employment or health problems.
  • relative poverty: Poverty defined within a country by position in relation to a nationally defined poverty line or inequality in the distribution of income. That is, relative poverty is not determined in relation to an absolute dollar amount, but rather by the relative positions of people within a society. The term can also refer to something similar to the moderate poverty described above, wherein basic needs may be met, but a lack of resources is apparent in relation to members of other portions of society.
prenatal care:
Health care given to pregnant women.
prevalence:
The number or proportion of cases, events, or conditions in a given population.
preventable disease:
Any of a group of illnesses that can be averted through health care measures such as vaccination or healthful behaviors, such as hand washing.
privatization:
The process of converting government-owned enterprises and businesses into privately owned ones. Also called denationalization.
productivity:
The measurement of physical output for each hour worked; usually refers to labor productivity.
public health:
The science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting better health through the organized efforts of society.
quality of life:
Refers to an individual's level of comfort, enjoyment, and ability to pursue daily activities. Often used in discussions of treatment options.
quarantine:
A strict period of isolation imposed to prevent the spread of disease.
safe motherhood:
The goal of programs to vaccinate and educate pregnant women regarding health care for themselves and their infants, and to provide them with skilled attendants and access to emergency obstetric care during childbirth.
sanitation:
Measures for hygiene, such as sewage and garbage disposal.
slum:
A household that lacks any one of the following five elements: access to sufficient amounts of water for family use at an affordable price, without being subject to extreme effort; access to improved sanitation, either in the form of a private toilet or a public toilet shared with a reasonable number of people; security of tenure (the rights of a tenant to hold property); housing in a permanent and adequate structure in a non-hazardous location; and, in most areas, a household requiring more than two people to share the same room. However, as housing in some cities lacks sufficient living space for middle-class households to fit this final requirement, the definition of a slum would be modified to require a lack of two of these conditions.
socialist-oriented market economy:
An economy that combines the guiding principles of both the market economy and socialism. From the market economy it takes the push to develop efficient means of production; from socialism, it retains the notion of state ownership and nationalization of major industries and utilities. Vietnam is noted for pursuing this economic model.
stewardship:
The moral and ethical responsibility for caretaking on behalf of others.
strains:
Varieties of microorganisms.
suggests:
Something research may do, but not to be confused with or used interchangeably with the more conclusive "finds" or "proves."
superbugs:
Popular term used to describe strains of bacteria that are resistant to all antibiotics.
surveillance:
The process of monitoring hospital and emergency room admissions, medical reports, and other community information sources in an effort to spot disease outbreaks.
sustainability:
A health system that will last and can be maintained over time.
trend:
The general course or prevailing tendency; a long-term movement or change in frequency, usually upwards or downwards.
urbanization:
A process in which an increasing proportion of an entire population lives in cities or suburbs of cities, areas of population dense enough that residents cannot grow their own food.
vaccinate:
To inoculate or feed a person with a vaccine made up of weakened microbes in order to create immunity from a disease.
vector:
An organism such as a tick, a mosquito, or a tourist that carries a disease-causing microbe from one host to another.
virus:
A tiny, simple microbe that invades cells and is not subject to antibiotics. Viruses cause many common infections such as flu and colds. Vaccines can prevent the spread of some viral illnesses (including polio), and other medications can ease viral disease symptoms but not cure the illness.
working age population:
The segment of the population between ages 15 and 64. See dependent age population for more information.