Tech5 News: Technology and Medicine 1 of a series

Ben HarrisonTECH 5 for March 19, 2014

Technology and Medicine 1 of a series


Good afternoon and welcome to another Tech 5 program and a five minute trip into the amazing world of technology. This is Ben Harrison.

The word technology can either be applied generally or to specific areas such as construction technology, medical technology, and information technology. Today I’d like to start a series about technology and medicine and how technology has changed the way we think about disease, its causes and its cures.


In 1900, the human life expectancy world-wide was approximately 30 years of age. That figure has been increasing each year to the point where today’s life expectancy runs from a high of 89.7 years in Monaco, 80 years in Canada and the UK and 79 years in the USA, to a low of just under 50 in South Africa. St. Vincent and the Grenadines at 75 is ranked 112 in world standings.

Life expectancy around the world has increased steadily for nearly 200 years and there are many reasons given for this continuing increase in longevity.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries the main reasons for the increase in longevity are improvements in sanitation, housing, and education which reduced the presence of life threatening bacteria and infections.


Better nutrition, better pre-natal care, medicines, and advances in technology that allow earlier detection and treatment, of formerly fatal health problems. The primary reason for the vast increase in life expectancy in developed countries in the 20th century is universal clean drinking water and very high levels of public and personal hygiene. These two improvements account for probably 80% of the life expectancy improvements.


Overall, life expectancy has increased due to 6 major factors: Clean drinking water; Universal sanitation; Significantly improved nutrition particularly during infancy and childhood; Vaccination against most common epidemic infectious diseases; Access to high-quality trauma (accident and emergency) care; Improved drugs (particularly, antibiotics).


Reducing child mortality, especially in developing countries will raise the average life expectancy accordingly. High child mortality is due in part to acute respiratory infections; diarrhea; measles; malaria and malnutrition.


In the 20th century, the massive universal vaccinations are main contributors to a drastic drop in child mortality with several enormous killer diseases now either wiped out or radically reduced including Smallpox; Polio; Measles; Whooping Cough and Tuberculosis. Having said that, we should be aware that scientists are concerned that viruses that we consider eradicated, such as smallpox, could re-emerge, having mutated into a new and highly contagious current vaccine resistant form of the old virus.


In conjunction with vaccines, clean drinking water programs, (which usually includes sanitation improvement), are responsible for the largest decrease in death at all ages. Improving access to clean drinking water reduces death rates at all age brackets radically, since it significantly reduces contagious disease transmission. In the developing world, vaccines, clean drinking water, and improved sanitation account for virtually ALL of the increase in life expectancy.


There are billions of dollars being spent world-wide on technology and research, seeking the cause and cure of diseases and conditions limiting life expectancy. Researchers are exploring the effect of environmental and climate change as well as the effect of contaminants such as pesticide and air born pollutants from industrial development.

Genetic research is also playing a major role in ongoing research and will continue to link your ancestor’s health and life to your personal future.

In future programs, we are going to take a look at some of the things we have learned and trends that are developing through research and technology that have/are preventing us from falling victim to life threatening illnesses as well as what we personally can do through better life style, nutrition and exposure to reduce our likelyhood of facing a certain early disability or death. .


If you would like to see a transcript of this or other Tech 5 programs, please visit

This is Ben Harrison from EEZEE Radio 91.1 AND 102.7 on your FM DIAL in St.

Vincent and the Grenadines