|Manual of Epidemiology for District Health Management (WHO - OMS, 1989, 202 p.)|
|CHAPTER 4. Epidemiological Health Information|
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.
IMPORTANT AND CONTROLLABLE DISEASES SHOULD HAVE THE HIGHEST PRIORITY
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.