A 2005 report by the Office for Economic Cooperation and Development states that when assessing factors most influential on health, the two most important are income and education. With regards to education, simply one extra year of education in one case study reduced the probability of dying in the next ten years by 3.6%. In addition, the National Bureau of Economic Research stated that an additional four years of education reduces the risk of heart disease by 2.16 percentage points and the risk of diabetes by 1.3 percentage points.
What are the implications of all this? The fact is that to educate is to empower people to take initiative on their own health issues. An old proverb says, "Give someone a fish to eat today and you must give him a fish tomorrow. Teach someone to fish, and he can always have food." The fact is, when people know what the causes of their health issues are, they will be able to prevent such issues from permeating into eventual health problems. Medication, as our group did for our first two years, is most effective helping individuals with problems that are beyond their control. Often times, they can learn what causes certain issues and prevent them. And this of course is no pseudoscience. A 2007 study by David M. Cutler of Harvard University and Adriana Lleras-Muney of Princeton University found that individuals with an additional four years of education also report more positive health behaviors.
We would like to relate a story from Mahnaz and her personal experiences with educating individuals on their health. A few years ago, when she was in Loja, Ecuador, she went to treat individuals with tuberculosis (TB). She stated that despite her best intentions, the TB levels in the city did not fall. Thus, she convened a meeting with town leaders to discuss what the causes of TB were. After the event, those individuals began to tell people what not to do to contract TB. The results: the TB levels in Loja fell to their lowest levels ever, and the Ministry of Health in Ecuador recognized her work. The fact is that when the causes of health problems are addressed, health issues can be resolved.
Education has been shown not only to reduce poverty, but also to increase the understanding of personal health. Humans are most apt to learn when they are young and countless institutions around the world support the fact that early education solidifies a foundation for future learning. The goal of Sierra Project Foundation in the comics we create is to teach health issues to youth in fun and interactive ways. And this idea is being tested by other groups that seek new and creative ways of solving humanitarian problems. For example, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are aiming to connect people to the internet to access information that would aid business and health. In India, the first state throughout the country that was able to be declared open defecation free did so through a public awareness and education campaign.