Nada Trzan-Herman and Anuska Sencar, Lek Pharmaceutical and Chemical Company d.d. -
Special Library, Slovenia
Sites-Toile pour les maladies à haute incidence:
Résumé: Une société moderne est de plus en plus concernée par
les questions de santé. Les utilisateurs d'Internet à travers le monde entier ont la
possibilité de s'informer sur les maladies et sur leurs traitements les plus appropriés.
Internet représente un outil d'enseignement utile pour les médecins, les pharmaciens,
les patients et toute personne ayant besoin de l'information la plus récente sur la
manière de traiter différentes maladies dans la vie quotidienne. L'industrie
pharmaceutique est un des agents fournisseurs d'information pertinente sur les questions
de santé pour le public. Cette contribution présente des sites de la Toile pour des
maladies à haute incidence. Le rôle d'une telle information contribue à améliorer les
conditions de santé pour la société.
Abstract: As modern society becomes more and
more health conscious. Internet users around the world havethe opportunity to learn about
diseases and about the best practice for their management. The Internet offers a useful
educational tool for doctors, pharmacists, patients and all consumers who need the most up
to date information about managing diseases in daily life. The pharmaceutical industry is
one of the providers of reliable health information for the public. This paper presents
web sites for high incidence diseases and the purpose of such information to achieve
better health for society.
We concentrated our internet searches on those sites which give reliable information
about high incidence diseases. As a starting point we chose a WHO report and performed a
simple search on these diseases. We believe that the Internet can be an important
information source, but today there is still a limit on people who use it. Because of that
other information sources are necessary and maybe they are also necessary in an
information overloaded society - because people simply do not read. We try to group a
number of internet sites for each disease in three categories. As a result we wish to see
which diseases are most, and which are least, discussed on the Internet.
1. WORLD HEALTH REPORT 1997 FOR HIGH INCIDENCE AND LEADING
The WHO report shows that at present there are ten leading diseases which cause
people's suffering and disability. They are the following:
Coronary heart disease* (7.2 million deaths per year)
Cancer* - all sites (6.3 million deaths per year)
Cerebrovascular disease* (4.6 million deaths per year)
Acute lower respiratory infection (3.9 million deaths per year)
Tuberculosis (3.0 million deaths per year)
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease* (2.9 million deaths per year)
Diarrhoea - including dysentery: 2.5 million deaths per year
Malaria (2.1 million deaths per year)
HIV/AIDS (1.5 million deaths per year)
Hepatitis B (1.2 million deaths per year)
*= non-communicable diseases
WHO is calling for an "intensified and sustained" global campaign to
encourage healthy lifestyles and attack the main risk factors which are responsible for
many diseases - unhealthy diet, inadequate physical activity, smoking and obesity. Such a
campaign requires top-level international collaboration and co-operation, involving
governmental institutions, health authorities, the community, mass media, non-governmental
organisations, medical and voluntary organisations and the private sector. Heart diseases,
stroke, diabetes and cancer (non-communicable diseases) will occur more and more in
developing countries and in industrialised countries, too.
There is an urgent need to raise awareness of and motivation for healthy lifestyles. In
the battle for health in the 21st century, infectious diseases and chronic diseases are
twin enemies that have to be fought simultaneously on a global scale. Health information
on the Internet is an important tool for empowerment patients. Through the Internet people
and patients who are potential or ultimate consumers of healthcare can learn how to
preserve their health. Patients should not be a passive partner in a healthcare system.
They have to be well informed; they have to be aware that there is information in various
forms (also on the Internet) and they have their own responsibility for healthy living. If
a disease exists there are many ways for people to personally find proper information
about how to cure the disease.
We would like to suggest some Internet health care sites which are devoted to educate
people to achieve a healthy life style and help to prevent non-communicable diseases
.) and to prevent communicable diseases (e.g.: http://www.cdc.gov/travel/travel.html
We can add that HIV/AIDS is covered extremely well in all sites which deal with health
care and prevention.
2. OUR METHOD TO FIND THE INTERNET SITES FOR THE TEN LEADING
We have performed searches via the search engines Yahoo, Alta Vista and Lycos and have
found out that searching Yahoo/Alta Vista gave the best results. We put in simple words to
search, like patients would do:
vascular, diabetes, obesity (most vascular diseases are caused by diabetes and obesity)
respiratory infection pneumonia
emphysema, asthma (allergy)
diarrhoea, diarrhoea dysentery
As you all know there are differences in search engines and we combined results. When
there was a huge amount of Internet sites (like for heart, asthma etc) we suggest only the
most reviewed and comprehensive ones. We try to suggest the addresses which are well
sponsored by government institutions, health authorities or the pharmaceutical industry
and which are created by scientific bodies. We have to add that alternative medicine is
also included in these sites.
We try to evaluate the amount of reliable information for the public, or patients,
which is available on the Internet for these ten diseases.
We sorted our findings into three categories:
more than 100 specific Internet sites: large
from about 10 to 100 specific Internet sites: medium
and about 10 specific Internet sites: small
3. INTERNET SEARCHING ON HIGH INCIDENCE DISEASES CORONARY
Heart diseases and stroke are the leading causes of death in richer nations and they
will occur more and more in poorer ones, too. Many Internet sites are devoted to heart
diseases and prevention of them - mostly with a healthy life style. Research institutes
and professional organisations as well as the pharmaceutical industry create or sponsor
interesting sites for the education of patients; here are some suggested addresses:
American Heart Association U.S.A.
Heart Information Network, U.S.A.
Cardiovascular Communication Centre, Trieste , Italy
(also radio show) Heart Homepage, U.S.A.
Cardiovascular Institute of the South, U.S.A.
Infinity Heart Institute, U.S.A.
University of Michigan, U.S.A.
http://www.fi.edu/biosci/ The Franklin
Institute of Science Museum
Texas Heart Institute, U.S.A.
In our opinion there are many more Internet sites for "cancer" than for heart
diseases. There are many sites for each specific cancer (brain tumour, breast cancer,
colon cancer, gyneacological cancer, Hodkin's disease, laryngeal cancer, leukemia, lung
cancer, lymphoma, melanoma, neuroblastoma, oral cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer,
skin cancer, testicular cancer, throat cancer, thyroid cancer...). All these various sites
are listed in Yahoo/Health: http://search.yahoo.com/health/Diseases -and
These sites are also important for recruiting patients for cancer clinical trials,
because various clinical trials are directly announced there. There are many reliable
sites about cancer but we would suggest starting with the Yahoo site which brings together
information for patients and scientists. It is hard to choose among so many specific and
important sites and we try to list those which are oriented towards patients as much as
http://www.nci.nih.gov/ National Cancer Institute
Texas Cancer Center
Cancernet Contents List
(American Cancer Society)
Cancer News on the Net
These diseases are mainly caused because of diabetes and obesity. We have found a lot
of reliable sites which inform people with early diagnosis of diabetes and prevention of
it. There are many sites with all sorts of information which can help patients (like
cookbooks, diets, sports, life style etc). Information for children with diabetes and
obesity is also very important.
ACUTE LOWER RESPIRATORY INFECTION
These diseases are connected with lung infections and pneumonia. There are no specific
sites about prevention and mainly there are descriptions of methods and medicines to cure
lower respiratory infections (also herbal remedies are suggested): These sites are:
American Lung Association
Health World Online
There are many good sites about the education and prevention of tuberculosis - many
more than on the previously listed disease (acute lower respiratory infection). WHO and
Center of Disease Control and prevention (CDC), Atlanta have the most important role in
this area. We can see that institutions all over the world care a lot about preventing the
revival of tuberculosis. There are the following important sites:
American Lung Association http://www.who.ch/gtb/
National Center for HIV,STD&TB prevention, U.S.A.
National TB Center U.S.A.
India's National Database on TB
CHRONIC OBSTRUCTIVE PULMONARY DISEASES
These diseases include mostly pulmonary emphysema and asthma and a lot are connected
with allergy. There are, especially,many sites for asthma prevention and treatment. They
are well presented for the public (adults and children) and for professionals. They are
sponsored a lot by the pharmaceutical industry. With careful reading of these sites people
can learn how to identify reasons for the increased prevalence of asthma and try to
protect themselves. These are some suggested sites:
(also in French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German)
http://www.lungusa.org/ American Lung
http://www.healthtouch.com/ (a part)
Diarrhoea is an infectious disease, spread all over the world, which causes serious
consequences especially in developing countries where living conditions are much less
healthy. Because of low Internet usage in those countries we cannot expect many Internet
sites giving information about this disease and its prevention. Much more frequent and
comprehensive are instructions about how to alleviate and cure diarrhoea when it appears
in well developed countries (children, travellers, HIV infections). These Internet sites
vary from professional ones to really simple ones (e.g.: first-aid, curing advises:
produced by Cuinex Interactive Ltd, UK)
The suggested sites are:
British Soc. of Gastroent. & Br.Digestive Found.
Online Publ., New Zeland
Dot Pharmacy, UK
Med.inf.Zambia (sponsored by pharm.ind.)
We have found some important sites for the public created by WHO, Medical Control
Agency and British airways and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - CDC, Atlanta.
There are many Internet sites which are research oriented and as such they are not popular
for education and prevention. But it is important to mention that a Plasmodium falciparum
genome sequencing project is going on and that we can expect new ways of treatment of this
disease. For the public we would recommend the following sites:
We have many important addresses for AIDS/HIV - general information, prevention and
treatment. Many of these sites are sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry. In our
opinion one of the best sites for HIV/AIDS information is created by Hoffmann la Roche. We
tried to search HIV/AIDS in combination with "South Africa" where this disease
is an endemic disease but the result was poor. We have found only one good prepared site
which was created in Zambia.
The efforts of society to prevent HIV/AIDS via Internet are huge but there is a problem
about how to reach people in less developed countries. There are so many sites on the
internet but we would suggest the following:
http://hivinsite.ucsf.edu/ (also in French and
http://www.hiv.net/ (also in German language)
http://www.hivnet.de/ (also in German language)
There are some excellent sites for the public (patients) to learn about hepatitis B.
Some of them are devoted only to hepatitis B and others can be found as a part of sites
which correspond to liver diseases and hepatitis. They are well presented for patient
education and communication. It is important to inform people about vaccination and that
people can receive information in their own language, too (not only in English language).
There are several local sites (especially in USA) which are concerned about patients with
hepatitis B in its surroundings, but in our opinion there are the following specialised
sites for hepatitis B:
http://www.hepnet.com/ Hepatitis Information
CDC, Hepatitis Branch, U.S.A.
http://www.immunize.org/ Immunisation Action
Coalition & Hepatitis B Coalition
4. OUR OPINION
Referring to our Internet search results which are presented in section three, we can
make the following remarks on the number of reliable Internet sites:
DISEASES MILLION DEATHS PER YEAR NUMER OF SITES
Coronary heart diseases 7.2 LARGE
Cancer - all sites 6.3 LARGE
Cerebrovascular diseases 4.6 LARGE
Acute lower resp. infections 3.9 SMALL
Tuberculosis 3.0 MEDIUM
Chronic obstructive pulm. dis. 2.9 LARGE
Diarrhoea 2.5 SMALL
Malaria 2.1 SMALL
HIV/AIDS 1.5 LARGE
Hepatitis B 1.2 MEDIUM
In our opinion there could be more sites for Hepatitis B which causes 1.2 million
deaths per year and for acute lower respiratory infections, which cause 3,9 million deaths
per year as these two diseases occur a lot in well developed countries where the Internet
It is perfectly clear that there are many Internet sites for diseases which prevail in
well developed countries - like coronary heart diseases, cancer, cerebrovascular diseases
etc. because the Internet in these countries is popular. It is wise to use a medium which
is the best for a mass of people, and the Internet is the right one in these countries.
The only surprise seems to be Hepatitis B and Acute lower respiratory infections which
also appear a lot in well developed countries but there is not so many reliable Internet
sites for the public.
We have to conclude that there are huge efforts by health authorities, government
institutions, the pharmaceutical industry, research organisations and universities to
educate people via the Internet about high incidence diseases and about their prevention.
We can assume that one third of the above cited Internet sites for the ten leading
diseases which cause death are sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry.
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