003 - Prevention and treatment in managing disease

Geographic Knowledge and Understanding

The merits of prevention and treatment in managing disease, including social marginalisation issues, government priorities, means of infection and scientific intervention.

Managing pandemics, including the epidemiology of the disease, prior local and global awareness, international action and the role of media.


The processes of prevention and treatment in managing a disease allows a country to gain power over a threat.

Managing pandemics is a multifaceted process.


  • To develop knowledge and understanding about the prevention and treatment in managing diseases such as Ebola.
  • To have knowledge and understanding of social marginalisation issues, government priorities, means of infection and scientific intervention associated with the management of a disease such as Ebola.
  • To have knowledge and understanding of the epidemiology of Ebola.
  • To have knowledge and understanding of the role of prior local and global awareness, international action and the media in the management of the Ebola pandemic.

Case Study

One case study of a contemporary pandemic and the lessons for pandemic management in the future.

Key Terminology

            • Pandemic
            • Epidemic
            • Endemic
            • Epidemiology
            • Social Marginalisation

Define the key terms above by using the 'Useful Link' below:

Useful Links

Activity One - Describe - What is it?

We are going to be using Ebola as a case study to answer two syllabus points which means that we need to know what the disease is, how it is spread, the impact and the importance of management strategies in detail. It will also result in this lesson spreading beyond one double lesson. I am all sure we have heard of Ebola but we need to know exactly what it is and where it is impacting. If you are concerned about Ebola being categorised as a pandemic we have confirmation from the IB that it is as it has spread across international boundaries. Basically Ebola is a killer. It destroys the immune system and can cause heavy bleeding inside the body which can damage every organ. It is categorised as a virus. According to UNICEF, over a third of the people who catch Ebola are children. Is this traditional Malthusian theory in action?

      1. Watch the YouTube clip below to find out more about the disease. Write down what a description of what the disease is.
      2. What is the epidemiology of Ebola? (The means of infection.)
      3. What are the symptoms of Ebola?

Useful Resources

World Health Organisation - Ebola Virus Disease

'Our Planet's Food and Health' textbook by Codrington Pages 121-125

Origins of Ebola

From USA Today

Ebola and Bats in the Congo

From Science Magazine

Story of Ebola

From Global Health Media Project

Activity Two - Describe - Spread - Temporal and Spatial

Now that you know how Ebola is spread you probably have a good idea of where the pandemic is occurring. We are now going to look at where it was first noted and where the disease has spread through both time and space. As it is a pandemic we ned to make sure that we are saying not only the region that has been predominately impacted by Ebola but the specific countries.

      1. Describe the incidence of the disease. Within this you need to consider where the disease has impacted and how the spread has through time (temporal dispersal). Do remember to include data.

Useful Resources

WHO - Ebola Maps

CDC - Ebola Outbreak in Africa Epidemic Curves

'Our Planet's Food and Health' textbook by Codrington Pages 121-125

Activity Three - Social Marginalisation

Part of the impact of Ebola is social marginalisation. As it is so easily spread from person to person anyone that displays symptoms are going to be marginalised, in many ways it is similar to how people were treated if they caught the Plague in the Middle Ages. Even Western health workers are often strictly monitored when they return home to check that they are not displaying symptoms. So what can be done to integrate survivors back into society?

      1. How and why are people stigmatised if they have Ebola. Consider the different scales that this could be looked at.
      2. Why do sufferers of Ebola not go to a hospital?

Useful Resources

The Guardian - Ebola - reducing stigma to reintegrate survivors into communities

The Lancet - The Ebola Suspects Dilema

'Our Planet's Food and Health' textbook by Codrington Pages 121-125

Image Two - Eoin in Sierra Leone

Image Three - Ebola Outbreak taken by Eoin

Image Four - Ebola Stigma taken by Eoin

Image Five - Ebola Outbreak Location taken by Eoin

Activity Four - Prevention versus Cure

There is always a lot of discussion concerning any disease of whether the prevention is more cost effective to society than the cure. One of the biggest threats to health in High Income Countries is obesity as it can lead to many diseases - cardiac issues, diabetes, high cholesterol, even greater incidences of cancer. Treating the leading cause of these issues is costly and delicate but does that outweigh the cost of devising cures? We will explore this dilemma by continuing to focus on Ebola.

      1. Describe the treatments for Ebola.
      2. How successful have those treatments been?
      3. How costly have the treatments for Ebola been? Think SEEP.
      4. How can the contraction of Ebola be prevented?
      5. What are the barriers to the prevention of Ebola?

Useful Resources

The New York Times - Getting to Zero Ebola Cases

'Our Planet's Food and Health' textbook by Codrington Pages 121-125

Activity Five - Politics

Sometimes treatment of a disease needs to be addressed on the global scale, particularly if the region at risk comprises of many Low Income Countries. But when a pandemic is played out in the global arena politics can actually slow the containment process down. Complete the two questions below.

      1. Read the article in the 'Useful Resource' box and write down how the international community, the WHO and the World Bank are helping to treat and contain Ebola.
      2. To what extent was the international community successful when dealing with Ebola?

Activity Six - Managing Pandemics - Awareness

We now know what the causes and impacts are of Ebola. We have also looked at whether it is best for a country to focus on the treatment rather than the cure. We know need to look at how pandemics can be managed at different scales. The next three sections will focus on the raising the awareness at the local and more global scale, how international action can be critical in controlling the pandemic and the role that the media has on the publics perception of the severity of the disease. We are going to start with the importance of raising the awareness of pandemics at both the local and global scale. Answer the following questions watching the YouTube clip and reading the articles 'Useful Resources' below.

      1. How can local radio stations help and hinder information people hear about Ebola?
      2. How is raising the awareness of Ebola going to help with the funding of solutions within the international arena?
      3. How can raising the awareness of Ebola create a possibility to control its impact?

Activity Seven - Managing Pandemics - International Action

We have know learnt about raising the awareness of a disease as a key way to control a pandemic, we now need to look at the physical action. We are going to primarily focus on what civil society groups and multi-government organisations are doing to manage Ebola.

      1. Watch the TedTalk by Bill Gates and write down the ways he suggests that pandemics should be controlled.
      2. What are the WHO doing to coordinate international efforts to reduce the outbreak of Ebola?
      3. How are MSF advocating the international community should react to pandemics?
      4. What power does the international community have over pandemics?

Activity Eight - Managing Pandemics - Role of the Media

The media can be highly persuasive in how we view people, regions and in this case pandemics. We know that the news is often written from a certain perspective but we haven't perhaps thought about how this may relate to the management of pandemics.

      1. Read the two articles in the 'Useful Resources' box and examine the role that the media plays in managing pandemics.

Exam Style Question

Analyse the management strategies for a named contemporary pandemic. [10 marks]

This lesson was development in collaboration with Richard Allaway from geographyalltheway. For more resources please visit www.geographyalltheway.com