The origin of Epidemiology is traced to a Greek doctor by the name Hippocrates who tried to find reasons for diseases in the early 16th century. Other physicians and scholars came in later in the century and the next two centuries with various theories explaining disease causation and prevention. All these form the early epidemiology. Modern epidemiology started in the 19th century when there were many occurrences of cholera and John Snow sought to know what was causing them. Later long many other pioneers suggested theories that explain disease causation, outbreaks, transmission and measures to control them. Others advocate for better environments as their theories suggest a relationship between environments and disease occurrence.
Definition and importance of Epidemiology
Epidemiology is a science that investigates and explains the patterns of disease occurrence. It looks at who is affected; sex and age, where the disease is occurring; for example, geographical distribution of the disease and finally when or the seasonality of the disease. It also looks at the various factors that influence that pattern. These factors are called the disease determinants. Epidemiological studies have been known as the Foundation or the backbone of public health. It is the results from such studies that inform policy making concerning the health of the public. It also guides all the clinical practices involved in diagnoses and treatment of diseases. It is, therefore, right to say that without epidemiology, public health would be blinded as there would be no drive or evidence to any practice or intervention.
Epidemiology as a course
The role of epidemiology in our lives has been greatly accepted. Many colleges and universities are offering a course on epidemiology. Professionals who have taken this course are called epidemiologists. Their main work is performing research on diseases. They design the investigation, collect, analyze and interpret data and disseminate the information to the relevant stakeholders for appropriate actions. It is no doubt these are very crucial people for the effective performance of the health sector I any country. It is very important to note that epidemiology borrows knowledge from other subjects such as biology to understand the development and processes of disease in a human body. It also borrows from social sciences to understand the relationship between risk factors for diseases and occurrence of the disease. This emphasizes the importance of epidemiology in public health as it forms a link between public health and other subjects for effective control measures and interventions.