Modern medical treatments, including vaccines, have helped extend life expectancies and quality of life through the prevention and treatment of disease. This fact is sometimes missed by those who oppose vaccines, criticise modern medicine and promote dubious “alternative” therapies. One reason for not seeing the benefits of modern medicine is that we take much of it for granted, and seldom see the effects of diseases of the past.
I have recently had the privilege of reading a family history of my great, great, great grandparents, James and Gerinia Ryan, and their descendants, put together by Eleanor Watt. It is fascinating reading, and also sobering when considering the deaths of four of their 15 children who did not make it past the age of 5.
George Edward Ryan died in July 1871 at 15 months of age from bronchitis
John Albert Ryan died in April 1878 at 13 months of age from deutitis (inflammation of the gums) and bronchitis
Jane Isabella Ryan died in June 1884 at 4 years of age from measles and pleurisy
Gerinia Eliza Ethel Ryan died in July 1884 at 9 months of age from measles and bronchitis
Critics of modern medicine often focus on diseases we have yet to find cures for, but in doing so they ignore the many successes – if born today the diseases which took these children’s lives are readily treatable.
I wonder what critics of modern medicine would find if they looked closely their family histories? How many relatives might they have lost to diseases now readily treatable?