Most "tropical" diseases are actually diseases of poverty
The term tropical diseases is often used to identify the prevailing infectious diseases of developing nations. However, a more appropriate term is simply diseases of poverty. Where functioning social institutions exist, including government, education, housing, law enforcement, and agriculture, the prevalence of such diseases diminishes regardless of the geographic latitude. But when these institutions falter, as in times of economic depression or civil unrest, diseases associated with poverty routinely reemerge.
A large number of diseases are particularly associated with poverty, though they may also occur among individuals of any socioeconomic status. The following discussion addresses those unique disorders most frequently encountered in developing nations, and is intended to simply introduce the reader to these subjects. For more complete study, review a reference textbook, such as Hunter's Tropical Medicine1. For specific drug therapies and dosages, please refer to the most up-to-date resources available.
With advancements in control of infectious diseases, it is now more widely recognized that many of the chronic diseases so prevalent in industrialized nations also pose growing health threats in some developing nations. Diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and cerebrovascular disease, for example, are growing in frequency. It is essential that health leaders in developing nations be familiar with these disorders as well.
Most of the unique diseases of poverty presented herein are infectious diseases. This information may be organized in a variety of different ways: by mode of transmission, by presenting symptoms, by associated organ system, etc. For this discussion, infectious diseases will be organized according to infectious agents.
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