Our aim is to revive knowledge of Microbiology not as a specialty subject but as a common sense subject.
The fact is that when this knowledge was available to the public via our schools and colleges, we were a healthy society, with an enviable economy and our people were knowledgeable, self sufficient and compassionate.
It was that knowledge which was instrumental in fighting polio, tuberculosis and may other similar diseases. As a matter of fact, it was the knowledgeable and motivated pubic which spearheaded all the campaigns of health and hygiene led by such organizations as the March of Dimes.
Subsequently, however, since the mid fifties and early sixties, the subject of Microbiology along with Home Economics were phased out allocating that teaching time to research.
The affect of this shift was not immediately felt but became noticeable during the seventies and the eighties when not only the diseases once brought under control began to resurface but newer ones such as AIDS began to appear. Along with that the cost of health care also began to rise.
Another affect not directly connected to health and disease also began to be noticed. This was a drop in interest in science as less and less number of students began to opt for science based jobs and carers. Microbiology used to attract students to science as they found the study of this subject not only fascinating but they could also see the results of their work progressively unfolding right before them.
We had hoped that the powers to be, especially in the academia and in the public health sector would not let the knowledge of Microbiology fade away from the public awareness.
Not only this did not happen but lately the academia, especially those in the professional fields such as medicine, nursing, pharmacy and dentistry have taken this subject out of their professional curriculum and pushed it down to community college or four year colleges where the emphasis is not on health and disease and much less on prevention.
The importance of the public awareness of Microbiology is best illustrated by a story that happened during the early part of the development of this subject and the dissemination of its knowledge to the public.
This story pertains to diphtheria which in those days used to be called throat distemper. Knowledge of what caused this disease and how to treat and prevent it via antitoxin and vaccination had become available from Pasteur's lab. But this knowledge, for political or other reasons did not reach England.
The real affect of this lack of knowledge, however was felt in the colonies where if a person came down with diphtheria in a French colony, he or she was cured with the antitoxin. But in a British colony the story was different for there they ordered his or her coffin!
It is important thus that this knowledge of Microbiology not only need to be conserved and perpetuated but also made available to the pubic.
If you are thinking this to be a Herculean task, don't for all it takes is one microscope to open that shut window in anyone's mind; see a true story at: http://www.iibbt.com/sepah-eDanish.html.
This happened in Iran where I was sent as an adviser to one of the universities.
I do not know hoe many people know this but the Shah of Iran had started an educational program called the Sepah-e-Danish or the Wisdom army where he gave a choice to the young people either to serve the two mandatory years in the regular army or spend those years in his Wisdom Army.
I knew about this but did not know how to see it in action until one day shopping in the bazaar with my wife, I met a young girl who was a member of the Wisdom Army.
Lo and behold,,one thing led to the other and she invited us to come to her village and see the program in action.
One day then, both I and my wife along with our son Fareed, who was mere twelve ears old then, showed up in her village with my microscope.
There were two schools in the village, one for the girls and the other for the boys. These at night became the schools for women and men respectively.
I started showing them germs from my mouth and after a bit of kidding around whether I brushed my teeth that morning, they wanted to see what was in their mouth.
At that point I would sneak up on them asking them to bring some water from the steam where they were watering their animals and also washing clothes and occasionally bathed also.>
After seeing what was in the drop of water, a young lad of about nine who had sat quietly throughout the presentation stood up and said in a voice full of concern "so that is why my mother is always sick". That is the impact when our inner window of ignorance gets opened with the fresh air of meaningful knowledge.
So, no it is not going to be expensive to bring the needed change. We just have to stay focused on the change we are hoping to bring.
The lesson for us in all this is "lets not complicate the simplicity". And let us not loose the knowledge which came to us more or less serendipitously and via much trial and error.
That is why it is important that while I set up the stage and the platform, you keep it alive and functioning via your donations.
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