The key difference between communicable and non-communicable diseases is that the communicable diseases are the diseases that can spread from one person to another via various means and methods. Noncommunicable diseases, on the other hand, are a group of chronic slow progressing diseases that do not spread from an infected person to an uninfected person on contact.
Communicable diseases were the main killer of the old world. Diseases like cholera, malaria, and measles killed people in thousands. While the incidence of the communicable diseases has seen a decline in the last few decades, the incidence of the non-communicable diseases is on the rise.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What are Communicable Diseases
3. What are Non-Communicable Diseases
4. Similarities Between Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases
5. Side by Side Comparison – Communicable vs Non-Communicable Diseases in Tabular Form
What are Communicable Diseases?
Communicable diseases are the diseases that can spread from one person to another via various means and methods such as contact with respiratory secretions, contaminated water, and food, etc. At the beginning of this century, communicable diseases were quite common. However, their prevalence and incidence have dramatically reduced due to the rapid development that took place in the health infrastructure. Various immunization programs have also vastly contributed to reducing the morbidity and mortality due to communicable diseases.
Methods of Communicable Disease Transmission
- Respiratory secretions – viruses such as influenza enter the body of an uninfected individual from the respiratory secretions of an infected person.
- Consumption of contaminated water and food – Cholera and dysentery spread by this method
- Sexual contact with an infected person – HIV is an example
- Animal carriers can sometimes transmit diseases – malaria, dengue are diseases transmitted by mosquitos
In most countries, there is a well-run and highly efficient notification system that helps healthcare professionals to control these diseases. It prevents diseases from developing into epidemics or pandemics.
What are Non-Communicable Diseases?
Noncommunicable diseases are a group of chronic slow progressing diseases whose incidence has seen a rapid increase in the last few decades. NCDs are not only a health issue but also a developmental challenge because a very large chunk health expenditure is separated for the treating of these patients in a majority of low or middle-income countries.
There are four major categories of non-communicable diseases,
According to the WHO statistics, around 30% of the deaths around the globe are due to non-communicable diseases. These diseases affect men and women equally. A majority of deaths from non-communicable diseases happen before the age of 60 years, resulting in the loss of valuable human resources to the countries.
Causes of NCDs
- Lack of exercise
- Unhealthy diet
- Environmental pollution
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Genetic predisposition
Looking at these causes, it is quite evident that NCDs are an easily preventable set of diseases. The lack of insight and reluctance to change lifelong practices are the main obstacles in countering the increasing menace of NCDs.
What are the Similarities Between Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases?
- Both groups of diseases are highly preventable.
What is the Difference Between Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases?
Communicable vs Non-Communicable Diseases
|Communicable diseases are diseases that can spread from one person to another via various means and methods.||Noncommunicable diseases are a group of chronic slow-progressing diseases.|
|Usually infectious diseases||Usually noninfectious diseases|
|Infectious agents such as bacteria and viruses are the causative agents.||
|Incidence has gone down over the last few decades||Incidence has gone up during within last 30-40 years|
Summary – Communicable vs Non-Communicable Diseases
Communicable diseases can spread from one person to another via various methods whereas noncommunicable diseases are a group of chronic slow progressing diseases. Communicable diseases can spread from an infected person to another, but the non-communicable diseases do not spread so. This is the major difference between communicable and non-communicable diseases.
1.“Communicable Diseases.” World Health Organization, Available here.
2. Kumar, Parveen J., and Michael L. Clark. Kumar & Clark clinical medicine. Edinburgh: W.B. Saunders, 2009.
1. “The F diagram showing pathways of fecal-oral disease transmission” by SuSanA Secretariat (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
2. “Global burden of disease(Dalys)” By Josephinetumuhamye – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia