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Epidemics Impact
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Epidemics and outbreaks of different communicable diseases have plagued mankind since time immemorial. Even today, as we are in the new millennium, these rank among the major decimators of human beings. According to estimates made by World Health Organization, worldwide 17 million deaths were attributed to infectious diseases during 1997; hundreds of million were disabled and incapacitated with economic loss that defies any precise calculations. Advances in public health and medicine, sanitation and vector control have led to considerable prevention and control of these diseases in some countries, but have had minimal impact in the majority of developing countries of the world due to lack of funds. Moreover, within a country, there continues to be enormous disparities in mortality, disability and exposure to infection among social classes with the poor, socially backwards and children suffering extremes of ill-health in all societies.

Increased rates of morbidity and mortality due to communicable diseases occur more frequently in association with complex emergencies than other disasters. In many of these settings, especially those occurring in developing countries, between 60% and 90% of deaths have been attributed to one of four major infectious causes: measles, diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections and malaria. Acute malnutrition is often associated with increased case fatality rates of these diseases, especially among young children. There have also been outbreaks of other communicable diseases, such as meningococcal meningitis, yellow fever, viral hepatitis and typhoid, in certain settings.

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