The Burden of Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases in Developing Countries

  • A. Boutayeb


Worldwide, developed and developing countries are facing the double burden of communicable and  noncommunicable diseases. However, developing countries are more exposed and more vulnerable due to a multitude of factors, including geographic, demographic and socio-economic factors. Noncommunicable diseases like cardio-vascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and mental disorders are affecting developing countries with an increasing trend. In parallel,  communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, acute respiratory infections and diarrheal disease are causing high mortality rates especially in low and middle income countries. Other diseases like the so-called neglected diseases are exclusively afflicting developing countries. Low-income countries are particularly affected by lymphatic filariasis, leishmaniasis, schistosomiasis, Buruli ulcer, cholera, cysticercosis, dracunculiasis, foodborne trematode infections, hydatidosis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis (ascariasis, trichuriasis, hookworm diseases), trachoma, sleeping sickness, onchocerciasis, Chagas disease, dengue and others. Beyond the high mortality and morbidity rates caused by communicable and/or noncommunicable diseases in developing countries, the global burden includes economic losses due to care for diseases and disabilities but also as a lack of productivity. More generally, communicable and noncommunicable diseases are impeding human development in developing countries by their negative impact on education, income and life expectancy and other health indicators. In sub-Saharan African countries, devastating consequences are already strikingly apparent in terms of life expectancy and  human development index (HDI) in general.

A large part of the burden caused by noncommunicable diseases like cardio vascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, obesity and others can be avoided by preventive measures, early diagnosis and detection and mainly by controlling risk factors such as smoking, alcohol, diet, and physical inactivity. Similarly, the impact of communicable diseases can be alleviated by efficient strategies, including affordability of treatments, development of new vaccines and medicines, improvement of environmental conditions and general incentives and sensitization.


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Communicable Disease Lymphatic Filariasis Acute Respiratory Infection Sexually Transmitted Disease 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

List of Abbreviations:


acquired immune defense system


 body mass index


communicable disease


chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


cardio vascular disease


disability adjusted life years


 directly observed therapy strategy


human development index


human immunodeficiency virus


noncommunicable disease


neglected disease


severe acute respiratory syndrome


sexually transmitted disease


United Nations AIDS


United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization


United Nations Children’s Fund


World Health Organization


years lived with disability


years of life lost


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  • A. Boutayeb

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