Support materials only that illustrate some possible contexts for exploring Science as a Human Endeavour concepts in relation to Science Understanding content.
The first mathematical models of the spread of disease were developed in the eighteenth century by Daniel Bernoulli, who created a model to predict increased life expectancy if populations were inoculated against smallpox. As these models preceded an understanding of germ theory, it was not until the early twentieth century that more reliable models were developed (ACSBL104). Contemporary models project how the disease will progress and simulate the effects of possible interventions. Such models are used to inform public health interventions such as mass vaccination programs. Supercomputing increased processing capacity and data storage has enabled models to increase in their complexity, with new variables examined and new relationships found, such as the relationships between epidemic frequency and location and factors such as population size, environmental change and antibiotic resistance (ACSBL103).
Epidemics and pandemics that are global or regional are becoming more prevalent, with outbreaks of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, diphtheria, malaria, measles and swine flu at a global level, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and avian flu at regional levels. Asia has been described as particularly susceptible to epidemics and pandemics of infectious disease due to increasing migration and global travel, high population density in urban areas and underdeveloped healthcare systems in some countries. The high cost of drugs and vaccines presents a particular challenge for developing countries in Asia, as does community mistrust of vaccination (ACSBL105). International business has recognised the costs associated with global and regional epidemics and has advised that businesses, governments and international organisations should collaborate to help prevent infectious diseases among poor populations by strengthening regional and national pandemic preparedness planning and expanding public-private partnerships to increase drug and vaccine availability (ACSBL108).
As an island nation, Australia has had an advantage over many other countries because its borders are easier to protect against the influx of disease-carrying materials and organisms. However, as global trade and air travel become more prevalent, it is increasingly important for Australia to protect its agriculture industry and environment through quarantine measures. These include surveillance, monitoring, examination and clearance activities and conform to policies and protocols that are based on scientific data and risk analysis (ACSBL109). Quarantine policy is determined through bilateral and multinational negotiations and involves consideration of protection of Australia’s animal and plant health status, Australia’s international obligations, the trade impact of quarantine policies, and environmental protection (ACSBL108).