Why is the occurrence of illness in a population related
of the most salient aspects of human health is illness, whether from
communicable or non-communicable diseases. Not only does illness reduce
immediate quality of life, the occurrence of illness in a population
can pose threat to economic vitality by reducing the available workforce
and raising medical costs. In fact, one study found the average cost
of illness to employers was $3700 per employee per year in 1999. (1)
are the differences between communicable and non-communicable diseases?
diseases include viruses and bacterial infections, and can range from
the common cold to deadly meningitis. These are diseases that are
spread from person-to-person contact, either directly or through some
vector. Non-communicable diseases include cancer, asthma, mental illnesses,
and other diseases, like atherosclerosis, that cannot be "caught"
from exposure to affected individuals. Some of these illnesses in
either category can be caused or exacerbated by stimuli in the environment.
For example, long-term exposure to coal dust from working in a mine
is an example of a high-risk activity that can cause acute cases of
lung disease and cancer. However, something as deceptively safe as
an office building could pose a risk to asthma-prone individuals due
to poor ventilation or outdated insulation materials.
In this manner, diseases can serve as indicators of environmental
pollutants. From the economic point of view, a higher incidence of
non-communicable and communicable diseases can result in decreased
productivity and higher internal costs from worker compensation and
health insurance plans.
to health care is also important to consider. If people have access
to preventative care, they are less likely to need expensive long
term treatment for major illnesses, like with early detection for
cancer, as well as avoid unnecessary pain and suffering. In this way
illness serves as an indicator of social justice. Instances of preventable
diseases like heart disease or type II diabetes can be a result of
personal choices members of a community make, and can be affected
by external factors like walkability or the amount of recreation space
available to citizens, may also show discrepancies between demographic
(1) from Goetzel, Ron Z. PhD; Hawkins, Kevin PhD;
Ozminkowski, Ronald J. PhD; Wang, Shaohung PhD. The Health and Productivity
Cost Burden of the Top 10 Physical and Mental Health Conditions Affecting
Six Large U.S. Employers in 1999, Journal of Occupational and Environmental
Medicine: Volume 45(1) January 2003 pp 5-14, American College of Occupational
and Environmental Medicine.