“Prevention is the Better Cure” — Bridging Science and Policy

prevention is the better cure
by Claudia Stocker/vividbiology.com

Our Mendeley Advisors are one of the groups participating in the global conversation launched by Atomium — The European Institute for Science, Media, and Democracy — on increasing collaboration and cooperation between policy makers, scientists and other people.

This week we are featuring an essay by Thembelihle Hwalima, a librarian at Lupane State University in Zimbabwe and a Mendeley Advisor, on why Prevention is the Better Cure.

You can also participate in this conversation by filling out weekly questionnaires on chronic disease at the REISearch forums.


“Prevention is the Better Cure”

by Thembelihle Hwalima

Chronic diseases have well been researched on their cause, treatment and how best to avoid them but still individuals still find themselves faced with a myriad of these, suffering till some die or get diagnosed at a very late stage.

Researchers, citizens and policy makers have dealt with these in more detail. This has been shown by the increased amount of workshops, conferences, and research fellows but still members of the public still suffer from these ailments because most of these forums target those who already know and not those who are most vulnerable. This essay seeks to dwell on the dissemination of such public health information to the populations. Many a times such information dissemination is done when an outbreak has occurred hence there is need to change mindset from having to cure than prevent. Correct, appropriate and relevant information should be disseminated to the public such that they always have knowledge of how best to prevent such diseases, and ensure that they don`t perpetuate to becoming chronic.

Information dissemination is defined as a proactive information service designed to educate and inform focused groups of users on social, economic and educational issues, problems and opportunities of interest to them (Dhawan). By disseminating information, an organization can reach members of its target audience and have a greater impact on policy and programming. In instances of having prevention being better than cure, the internet serves as an “in-viable” tool to communicate health information across a wide audience. This should especially be targeted towards third world countries where use of internet has not yet been very effective due to issues of illiteracy, lack of IT skills, hardware, software, and high costs to set up to mention but a few challenges.

When disseminating information there is need to establish communication messages that is what is to be said? This assists to define the audience to send the communication to. Understanding or knowledge of target audience then enables one to determine the channel of communication or medium to be used, and how best it will be marketed. Thereafter there is need to evaluate the impact. For instance, many a times do we receive flyers written about a disease alert, that is, Cholera or Ebola, but that doesn’t guarantee that the message has been understood.

Also, basic understanding of population variations, infants, teenagers, young adults, and the old assists also in information dissemination; level of literacy understanding of geographical location and culture existing in the location. This is highly important as it helps in understanding behaviors and informs strategies and designs of information dissemination.

Hence, yes prevention is better than cure by ensuring proper information is disseminated to the right audience, using understandable media and having evaluated the feedback of the dissemination and above all using future predictions from past experiences as preventative arenas.


Over the next five weeks, we will publish guest blog posts by Advisors on each of the five topic areas, alongside an exclusive art by science illustrator Claudia Stocker. The five subtopics are:

Prevention is the better cure (week of 15 Feb)
New technologies and innovation (week of 22 Feb)
Citizens’ rights and responsibilities (week of 29 Feb)
Diabetes and nutrition (week of 7 March)
More and better data (week of 14 March)

The REIsearch platform  is available in six languages: French, Italian, English, Polish, Portuguese, and German. The platform asks researchers and others to answer short weekly questionnaires on five different topic areas on a weekly basis. Though the launch is in the EU, researchers from all parts of the world are encouraged to join the conversation.