The double burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases in developing countries

Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2006 Mar;100(3):191-9. doi: 10.1016/j.trstmh.2005.07.021. Epub 2005 Nov 4.


Now, at the dawn of the third millennium, non-communicable diseases are sweeping the entire globe. There is an increasing trend in developing countries, where the demographic and socio-economic transition imposes more constraints on dealing with the double burden of infectious and non-infectious diseases in a poor environment, characterized by ill-health systems. It is predicted that, by 2020, non-communicable diseases will cause seven out of every ten deaths in developing countries. Among non-communicable diseases, special attention is devoted to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic pulmonary disease. The burden of these conditions affects countries worldwide but with a growing trend in developing countries. Preventative strategies must take into account the growing trend of risk factors correlated to these diseases. In parallel, despite the success of vaccination programmes for polio and some childhood diseases, other diseases like AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and dengue are still out of control in many regions of the globe. This paper is a brief review of recent literature dealing with communicable and non-communicable diseases in developing countries. It gives a global view of the main diseases and their impact on populations living in low- and middle-income nations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Communicable Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cost of Illness
  • Developing Countries / statistics & numerical data*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Malaria / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology