Disease Prevention: Levels of Disease Prevention in 2023

With an ever-evolving healthcare landscape, it’s important to stay up to date on the latest disease prevention strategies. In this blog, we’ll discuss the three levels of disease prevention in 2023 and how to best utilize them. We’ll also go over the benefits of each level and how to implement them into your daily life. Get the inside scoop and become an expert in disease prevention today!

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”

Thomas A. Edison

Table of Contents

Primordial Prevention: Jarawa Tribe In India

A few weeks ago I watched a video of a YouTuber Dhruv Rathi, where he pointed out how an attempt to mainstream the Jarawa tribe in 1970 ended up. It has a devastating effect on tribal people. It strips them of their self-sufficiency and sense of identity and leaves them struggling at the very margins of society. Rates of disease, depression, addiction, and suicide within the tribal community almost inevitably soar.

Understanding The Levels of Disease Prevention

Exactly the philosophy of primordial prevention is to preserve the traditional way of living and culture rather than changing or adopting modern lifestyles. Which in turn is accompanied by the risk factors and diseases of the modern world.

The Change was Devastating

People of Jarawa tribes were living a life of hunters and gatherers, mostly surviving on fruits, wild roots, tubers, and honey, often have to travel long distances to collect it.

We try to show them our modern world and our lifestyle. We offer them packaged foods, but few were not able to digest them and many became obese because of it. They were introduced to tobacco and alcohol and they instantly became addicted to them.

Rate of Diseases in Jarawa Tribe
Rate of Diseases in Jarawa Tribe

They are gradually losing their primitive way of life and culture and becoming prone to the risk factors and diseases of the modern world.

Levels Of Disease Prevention

Friends today we are going to talk about the various levels of disease prevention.

There are four types of disease prevention that can prevent or modify disease occurrence in the population.

1 Primordial prevention

2 primary prevention

3 secondary

4 Tertiary prevention.

Disease Prevention: What Is Primordial Prevention?

Primordial prevention is a term used in public health and refers to the prevention of the emergence or development of risk factors in countries or populations in which they have not yet appeared.

Primordial prevention in Disease Prevention:

This type of prevention focuses on reducing the risk of disease by addressing the root causes and modifiable risk factors, such as preserving the traditional way of living, promoting healthy lifestyles, improving access to healthy food and water, reducing exposure to environmental toxins, and promoting policies that support health and well-being. The goal of primordial prevention is to create healthy environments.

By addressing the underlying causes of disease, primordial prevention can reduce the burden of disease, improve health outcomes, and promote healthy aging.

The Natural History of The Disease

Natural history of disease for Disease Prevention
Natural history of the disease

To understand the level of prevention we have to first understand the natural history of the disease. How the disease occurs, which are the causative factors and risk factors for the development of any disease.

It is divided into pre-pathogenesis and pathogenesis period before man is involved and after man are involved respectively. And primordial prevention starts before pre-pathogenesis. That is why primordial prevention seems more intuitive and intangible because no disease and no risk factors are present.

Primary Prevention As Disease Prevention

It can be defined as action taken prior to the onset of the disease, which removes the possibility that a disease will ever occur.

How we can achieve primary prevention or which are the measure we design to achieve Disease Prevention?

Let us take two examples one for infectious disease and the other for chronic diseases like CAD, HT, and try to understand what primary prevention is.

In the case of infectious diseases like measles

We can prevent measles if we can prevent the interaction of the measles virus, the host, and the environment.

How we can do that ? by health promotion or specific protection

Examples of Health Promotion For Disease Prevention

1. Health education: firstly educating and encouraging people to timely take necessary precautions to prevent measles for example avoiding crowded places and frequent hand washing. Health education is one of the most cost-effective interventions.

2. Environmental modification:

Provision of safe water; installation of sanitary latrines; control of insects and rodents; improvement of housing, etc

3. Nutritional intervention

Examples of nutritional interventions are food fortification; nutrition education, mid-day meal scheme etc.

4. Lifestyle And Behavior Modification

Let us take the example of Diabetes Mellitus(DM) and discuss what is lifestyle and behavior modification as primary prevention.

World Health Organisation has recommended two approaches

One is

population (mass) strategy

and the other is

high-risk strategy.

A. Population Strategy In Disease Prevention

In population strategy at the mass level, we encourage people to adopt a healthy lifestyle which includes:

1. Maintain a healthy weight:

2. Eat a healthy diet: A diet that is high in fiber, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help in preventing DM.

Avoiding processed and sugary foods and drinks can also reduce the risk of DM.

3. Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity can help in preventing DM by improving insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism.

Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming.

4. Manage stress:

Chronic stress can contribute to the development of DM.

Practice stress-reducing activities such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.

5. Quit smoking: Smoking increases the risk of developing DM. Quitting smoking can help in preventing DM, as well as other chronic conditions such as heart disease and lung cancer.

6. Monitor blood sugar levels: If you have a family history of DM or other risk factors, such as obesity or a sedentary lifestyle, monitoring your blood sugar levels can help you catch any abnormalities at an early stage and take action to prevent the development of DM.

B. High-Risk Strategy in Disease Prevention

While in the high-risk strategy, the above measures are applied among people who are at risk for Diabetes, for example, having a family history of DM, a Sedentary lifestyle, obesity, etc.

High Risk Strategy in Disease Prevention
High-Risk Strategy

Primary Prevention Has a Great Track Record

Friends It is worthwhile to note that industrialized countries like UK, France, Japan, and many others were successful in eliminating a number of communicable diseases like cholera, typhoid, and dysentery and controlling several others like the plague, leprosy, and tuberculosis, not by medical interventions but mainly by raising the standard of living which is primary prevention.

Specific Protection

Another useful mode of intervention in primary prevention is specific protection:

How we can protect the host so that the disease agent cannot infect him? Well, it is possible through immunization- by taking vaccines against various diseases, and the use of specific nutrients like iodized salt”  to prevent goiter.

Chemoprophylaxis, for example, chloroquine or doxycycline to prevent malaria, use of a helmet to prevent severe brain injury, and so on.

In summary, primary prevention is a “holistic” approach,

Activities and health measures such as sanitation; infection control; immunization; food, milk, and water safety; environmental protection, and occupational health are all basic primary prevention measures.

The most interesting thing about primary prevention is, that they are available at a low cost and are safe.

Secondary prevention As Disease Prevention

Secondary prevention is a level of preventive medicine that focuses on early diagnosis and treatment to prevent the progression of a disease or complications. This level of prevention is often used for individuals who have already been diagnosed with a disease or condition or who are at high risk of developing a disease.

Goal Of Secondary Prevention

The goal of secondary prevention is to identify the disease or condition early, when it is still treatable, and to prevent or delay its progression.

For example, secondary prevention for cancer may involve regular screening tests, such as mammograms or colonoscopies, to detect cancer early when it is more treatable.

Similarly, individuals who have been diagnosed with diabetes may receive regular blood sugar monitoring and education on self-management to prevent or delay the onset of complications associated with the disease.

The health programmes initiated by governments are usually at the level of secondary prevention

Advantages & Disadvantages of Secondary Prevention

A few Advantages of secondary prevention are Early detection, Preventing complications, reduced mortality, and cost-effective

And some Disadvantages are it is ineffective in preventing the transmission of diseases, is more expensive, and false positives can lead to unnecessary anxiety, further testing, and sometimes even unnecessary treatment.

Tertiary Level Of Disease Prevention

The set of interventions and actions aimed at managing and treating the consequences of a disease or condition that has already progressed to an advanced stage or caused significant disability or impairment is called Tertiary prevention.

The goal of tertiary prevention is to prevent the further progression of the disease, manage its symptoms, and improve the patient’s quality of life.

Examples of Tertiary Level of Prevention

Rehabilitation and physical therapy: These interventions can help patients with physical impairments or disabilities regain function, improve mobility, and manage chronic pain.

Medication management: Medications can help manage symptoms of the disease, prevent complications, and slow down the progression of the disease.

Surgery: reconstructive surgery in leprosy or elephantiasis to improve mobility.

Psychological support: Patients with chronic diseases or disabilities may experience emotional distress, anxiety, or depression. Psychological support can help patients cope with their illnesses and improve their quality of life.

Support groups: Support groups can provide patients with a sense of community and peer support, as well as valuable information and coping strategies.

Examples of Rehabilitation:

Examples of rehabilitation are: establishing schools for the blind, provision of aids for the crippled, reconstructive surgery in leprosy, muscle re-education and graded exercises in neurological disorders, change of profession for a more suitable one, and modification of life in general in the case of tuberculosis, cardiac patients and others. The purpose of rehabilitation is to make productive people out of non-productive people.

The advantages of tertiary-level of prevention include the:

Improved quality of life: Tertiary prevention can help patients manage the symptoms of their disease, maintain independence, and improve their quality of life.

Prevention of complications: Tertiary prevention can help prevent complications associated with advanced or untreated diseases, such as infections, pressure ulcers, or cardiovascular events.

Cost-effectiveness: Treating and managing chronic diseases through tertiary prevention can be less costly than treating complications associated with advanced or untreated diseases.

The disadvantages of tertiary-level prevention include the:

Limited effectiveness: Tertiary prevention may not be effective in treating or managing certain diseases or conditions, particularly those that are very advanced or untreatable.

Side effects: Tertiary prevention interventions such as medications and surgery can have side effects, which can be harmful to patients.

Cost: Tertiary prevention interventions can be expensive, which may limit access for some patients.

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FAQs On Levels Of Disease Prevention

What is primordial prevention?

Primordial prevention is a type of prevention that aims to prevent the development of risk factors for diseases, rather than preventing the diseases themselves. It focuses on addressing the underlying social, economic, and environmental factors that contribute to the development of risk factors, such as unhealthy diets and physical inactivity.

Why is primordial prevention important?

Primordial prevention is important because it can help to prevent the development of risk factors for diseases in the first place, rather than waiting until people have developed the risk factors and then trying to prevent the diseases. This can help to reduce the burden of chronic diseases and improve overall population health.

What are some examples of primordial prevention?

Examples of primordial prevention include policies and programs that promote healthy diets and physical activity, such as improving access to healthy foods and safe places to exercise and reducing exposure to environmental toxins that can contribute to the development of risk factors.

How does primordial prevention differ from primary prevention?

Primordial prevention differs from primary prevention in that it aims to prevent the development of risk factors for diseases, rather than preventing the diseases themselves. Primary prevention focuses on preventing the onset of diseases in people who do not yet have them, through measures such as vaccinations, screening, and lifestyle interventions.

What are some challenges to implementing primordial prevention?

Some challenges to implementing primordial prevention include addressing the root causes of risk factors, which can require significant policy and systems-level changes, and engaging a variety of stakeholders, including policymakers, healthcare providers, and community members. Additionally, sustaining efforts over time can be difficult, as societal factors such as competing priorities and limited resources may undermine progress.

What is primary prevention?

Primary prevention is a type of prevention that focuses on preventing the onset of diseases or health problems before they occur. It typically involves promoting healthy behaviors, such as exercise and healthy eating, and addressing risk factors, such as tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption.

What are some examples of primary prevention?

Examples of primary prevention include vaccinations to prevent infectious diseases, programs to promote healthy eating and physical activity, efforts to reduce exposure to environmental toxins, and policies to discourage tobacco and alcohol use.

How effective is primary prevention?

Primary prevention can be very effective in preventing the onset of diseases and health problems. For example, vaccinations have been very successful in preventing infectious diseases, and efforts to reduce tobacco use have led to significant declines in smoking-related illnesses.

How effective is secondary prevention?

Secondary prevention can be very effective in detecting and treating diseases early before they cause complications or become more difficult to treat. Early detection and treatment of cancer, for example, can significantly improve survival rates.

What are some challenges to implementing secondary prevention?

Some challenges to implementing secondary prevention include ensuring that screening tests are accurate and accessible to all individuals who may need them, as well as ensuring that individuals who are diagnosed with a disease receive timely and appropriate treatment. Additionally, there may be challenges in engaging individuals in screening and follow-up care, as well as addressing social determinants of health that may affect health outcomes.

How does tertiary prevention differ from primary and secondary prevention?

Tertiary prevention differs from primary and secondary prevention in that it focuses on managing and treating existing diseases or health problems, rather than preventing their onset or detecting and treating them early.

What are some challenges to implementing tertiary prevention?

Some challenges to implementing tertiary prevention include ensuring that individuals have access to necessary treatments and support services, addressing social determinants of health that may affect health outcomes, and promoting adherence to treatment plans. Additionally, some individuals may face financial or logistical barriers to accessing necessary care.

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