Science and Society

Scientific advancements are achieved when society chooses to place emphasis on resolving a specific issue that harms the general public. General curiosity regarding an unexplained subject or phenomena is an additional factor that can result in amazing scientific discoveries. In the end, no matter the motivation for a scientific discovery it will always result in an advancement beneficial for assisting people around the world. Scientific discoveries are all important, whether they explain how to altering the human genome, or how to effectively treat diseases in places where access to proper healthcare is scarce.  

Rx for survival provided countless examples highlighting the importance of scientific advancements in communities lacking access to proper healthcare. One example that stood out to me was in Bangladesh, where efforts were being made to decrease the child mortality rate caused by dehydration –brought on by diarrhea.  Doctors discovered that a simple, yet effective, treatment for fighting dehydration was giving children a solution comprised of salt, sugar, and water. This simple solution was not only inexpensive, but also easy to make. This solution was effective in counteracting dehydration because the sugar and salt combination made the solution have a lesser concentration of water –meaning that once ingested the body would easily absorb the water ( water diffusion.). Upon seeing how effective the solution was in terms of fighting dehydration, women taught firsthand by doctors, felt encouraged to spread information about the dehydration solution. This initiative ultimately led to the decrease in child mortality by 50% in a decade. In this case, the oral dehydration discovery meant the ability for children to survive what was once their most common cause of death. 

Another example that stood out to me in Rx for survival was in Thailand, where Mechai Viravaidya was actively fighting for family planning and safe sex. In the 1970’s and 80’s the sex-industry in Thailand experienced an increase in popularity. Simultaneously, the threat of HIV was on the rise among individuals in Thailand engaging in unprotected sex. Mechai understood that Thailand was under the threat of a large HIV epidemic, and knew he had to act quickly and warn the public. Mechai utilized unconventional methods for increasing awareness of public health among the general public. This included condom-blowing contests and encouraging taxi drivers to hand out condoms with the fares. Strange as they may sound, these methods were proven effective as cases of HIV exposure in Thailand decreased approximately 90 percent, birth rates drastically decreased too.  Through his tireless effort and incorporation of sexual health and science — explanations on the effect of HIV to the public– Mechai was able to save countless lives and educate many more.

Science is a vital part of society that assists in the perpetuation of life even under the most unlikely circumstances; such as the discovery of antiretrovirals given to patients with HIV to lengthen their lifespan.  Being that it is such a crucial part of society, Science should be regulated by the government to ensure the experiments are in accordance with the laws, but allow scientists themselves to choose what to investigate. Science and scientific research however must always be inclusive of all parts of life in order to make better informed decisions on what is best for our continual  success as a society and that of the world we inhabit.

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