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close this bookManual of Epidemiology for District Health Management (WHO - OMS, 1989, 202 p.)
close this folderCHAPTER 4. Epidemiological Health Information
View the document4.1 Health status assessment
View the document4.2 Important diseases
View the document4.3 Sources of epidemiological information
View the document4.4 Morbidity patterns
View the document4.5 Mortality patterns
View the document4.6 Seasonality
View the document4.7 Using morbidity and mortality rates
View the document4.8 Death registration and certification
View the document4.9 District health information checklist

4.2 Important diseases

Which are the important diseases? From an epidemiological viewpoint there are two factors that are indicative:

· Frequency - high incidence or prevalence, including potentially epidemic diseases.
· Severity - causing much disability and a high mortality.


For example, falciparum malaria is important because it can have a high incidence and lead to many deaths. Similarly, malnutrition can have a high prevalence and a high mortality. Some diseases are important because they are potentially epidemic, such as cholera, meningococcal meningitis and trypanosomiasis. Many outpatient attendances are for minor self-healing illnesses and, although they are important to the individual, they are not particularly important to the community as a whole.

Diseases that have a high frequency and are severe, and which are preventable or controllable, should receive the highest priority in planning health programmes.