Lesson 24: Disease Prevention

The Latter-day Saint Woman: Basic Manual for Women, Part A, (2000), 170–75


The purpose of this lesson is to remind us to practice principles of disease prevention so we can stay healthy.

We Must Learn How to Stay Healthy

Anciently, people did not know causes of disease. They thought disease was caused by evildoing, failure to make sacrifices, or spells cast by other people. After studying for hundreds of years, scientists and physicians now know the causes of many diseases. We have gained much knowledge since the gospel was restored to the earth in 1830. Since that time the Spirit of the Lord has been poured out upon the earth. Many new discoveries have been made to help us be healthy.

As adults, we need to know and do things that help us remain healthy. We should also teach these things to our children. We need to teach our families to have a good attitude about good health. In some cultures, parents tell their children they will get shots when they are bad. This is foolish. It teaches children to think of good health care as punishment.

In this lesson, we will review some of the things that help us stay healthy.

Controlling Germs Helps Prevent Disease

Germs are very small living things that can cause disease. Some germs travel from one person to another. Other germs travel from animals to people. Germs cause many different kinds of diseases when they enter our bodies. They live and grow well in places that are warm, moist, and dark. They grow around animals or in wastes from animals or humans. We need to get rid of the conditions where germs live.

  • What can we do to eliminate these conditions? Add the following suggestions to those given by the sisters:

Keep Insects out of the Home

One way to keep insects out of the home is to put screens on the windows as well as on the doors, where possible. These screens should be kept in good repair, especially during warm weather.

Clean the Places Where Germs Live

Areas in the home where we cook, bathe, or wash clothing are often moist. There are ways to keep these areas drier. Moist areas are a problem, especially if they are warm. Although sunlight is warm, it helps prevent the growth of germs.

  • What items could be placed in the sunshine occasionally to help get rid of germs?

Properly Dispose of Animal and Human Wastes

Germs live in animal and human wastes. When wastes remain in the open, flies settle there and pick up germs on the tiny hairs of their legs. When the flies land somewhere else, these germs can fall off.

  • How can we dispose of animal and human wastes? (Use a latrine or toilet to dispose of human wastes. Keep animals in a pen. Bury in the garden wastes from animals that do not eat meat. Cover waste material with dirt, screens, or lids so flies cannot get to it.)

Protect Food from Insects

Put food that is not eaten into a cupboard where insects cannot get to it. If you have a cool place, keep food there. A refrigerator, icebox, or springhouse keeps food very cool. Because some germs can blow through the air, we should protect food from wind as well. In some very tropical climates, food is best stored in a good food safe.

Immunizations Help Prevent Disease

We can protect ourselves and our families from some diseases by getting immunizations. For some diseases we need only one immunization, but for other diseases we may need several immunizations at certain time intervals. Polio is a disease that was once very common. Many years ago a physician-scientist discovered a way to protect people from getting this disease. He developed a polio immunization. People who get the immunization protect themselves from this disease, which once killed many people and crippled many more. In most parts of the world, people can receive immunizations from a health clinic or a physician.

  • What diseases are common in your area? What immunizations do physicians or workers at the health clinic recommend? How often should they be given? What can you do to get the necessary immunizations to protect your family? Tell the sisters when and where immunizations are given. Suggest that the sisters set a time to go get them.

  • Display visual 24-a, “Resistance and Immunity to Disease.” Allow the sisters time to study the chart in their manuals.

Good Health Practices Help Prevent Disease

  • Display visual 24-b, “A wise young woman makes certain she gets the proper amount of sleep, eats nutritious meals, brushes her teeth properly at least twice a day, and washes her hands often.”

We can develop habits that will bring us better health. Some of these habits are to get enough sleep at night, eat the proper variety of foods, and get some exercise every day. We also need good habits for elimination of body wastes. Bathing regularly, brushing and flossing teeth after each meal, washing hands after using the toilet, and covering our noses and mouths to sneeze are other good habits to form. In tropical climates, everyone should wear sandals or other foot coverings to prevent infection.

  • Ask the sisters to tell how they have learned or have taught family members to practice good health habits.

When Sickness Comes

Sickness usually causes a change in how we feel or how our body looks or acts. Sudden change or extreme change is often a sign that something is wrong. Some of the changes that are signs of sickness are pain, fever, chills, loss of appetite, nausea, paleness, dizziness, weakness, rash, itching, swelling, and diarrhea.

If we become ill, we should go to the health clinic or see a physician to find out how to best overcome the sickness. Priesthood blessings can also help. The Lord expects us to work to receive blessings. We should allow a physician to direct us in curing an illness; then we should add good health practices, faith, prayers, and priesthood blessings. If we do these things, we can overcome many sicknesses.

  • What can you do today or this week to help prevent disease?

Conclusion

We are the Lord’s workers on this earth. In order to serve Him effectively, we need to be healthy. We can help build Zion when we ourselves are healthy and when we raise healthy children.

The Lord has provided us with many ways to prevent disease and illness. He expects us to use wisdom and do all we can. He expects us to take good care of people who are ill. He has promised us that through faith, prayer, and the power of the priesthood we can be healed, according to His will. President Brigham Young taught: “Then let us seek to extend the present life to the uttermost, by observing every law of health, and by properly balancing labor, study, rest, and recreation, and thus prepare for a better life. Let us teach these principles to our children” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [1954], 186).

Challenge

Use the ways taught in this lesson to teach your family members to practice good health habits. Review the chart in visual 24-a.

Teacher Preparation

Before presenting this lesson:

  1. 1.

    Visit the local health center to learn what immunizations are available to people in your community. Find out when they are given, what record you must take with you, and so on.

  2. 2.

    Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.