Socially Dangerous Diseases: a Brief Guide to the Must-know Facts

Socially dangerous diseases are the diseases which occur and spread due to the certain socio-economic conditions. Factors such as lack of vaccination, poverty and pollution are especially harmful. For example, outbreaks of tuberculosis contribute to overcrowding, poor living conditions and unhealthy food. Likewise, lack of the minimally required knowledge on hygiene can lead to outbreaks of hepatitis A and sexually transmitted diseases.

Any human activity is potentially dangerous. Even before birth, a person is exposed to continuously existing hazards. Once born, these dangers are threatening the life and health of the person. The list of diseases faced by people throughout their lives is actually non-exhaustive. Moreover, these diseases threaten not only individuals but also particular social groups like nations, states and mankind at large.

The major distinction and, at the same time, the key problem of socially dangerous diseases is their ability to widespread and cause massive infestations. For this reason, the role of state and its preventive measures becomes especially important. In the absence of adequate government measures (including organizational, technical, financial, medical and preventive ones) diseases spread faster, mortality is on the rise and life expectancy of the population reduces. Huge amounts of resources need to be allocated to stabilize the situation and eliminate the negative social and macroeconomic consequences.

While the list of the socially dangerous diseases is not exhaustive and definitions vary from country to country, most often it includes the following diseases:

● the active form of tuberculosis;
● severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS);
● venereal lymphoma;
● Ebola virus and other hemorrhagic fevers like Lassa fever, Marburg virus disease, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, South American hemorrhagic fever and others;
● HIV;
● gonorrhea;
● granuloma inguinale;
● diphtheria;
● yellow fever;
● infectious leprosy;
● infectious syphilis;
● chancroid;
● smallpox;
● pandemic influenza;
● polio caused by wild poliovirus;
● cholera;
● plague.

Additionally, many non-infectious diseases are also considered socially dangerous. In particular, 75 percent of disease-related deaths in developed countries are caused exactly by socially dangerous diseases. These include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, neuropsychiatric disorders, allergic reactions, etc.

Obviously, most of these socially dangerous diseases often go hand in hand; occurrence of one of them predisposes the development of others. That’s why the fundamental task of practical health care is prevention of these diseases as well as elimination of factors that contribute to their development.

Risk factors and their role in the development of socially dangerous diseases

The number of risk factors causing socially dangerous diseases is huge and grows every year. Among the risk factors, the #1 place is held by unhealthy lifestyle whose share in the structure of the risk factors exceeds 50%. The remaining 50% come from genetic, environmental and medical factors.

Moreover, risk factors also play an essential role in the development of such socially dangerous diseases as cancer and tuberculosis.

The case with tuberculosis is especially dramatic. Over the past 10 years, the number of occurrences has grown twice. Factors such as growing poverty in certain regions and countries, inadequate coverage of the population with preventive examination as well as parents refusing to vaccinate their children are significant obstacles to fighting this disease. This has also led to an increase in the number of patients with the latest, incurable stages of tuberculosis. The situation is being worsened by the fact that many patients smoke which interferes with the treatment.

Drugs and their role in the case of socially dangerous diseases

The starting point in many cases of socially dangerous diseases is drugs. People who use drugs through injection run a high risk of HIV infection and hepatitis B and C. In numerous cases, these diseases progress into the stages at which they are no longer subject to any treatment.

While drug prevention is extremely important in fighting socially dangerous diseases, it is also equally important to help people get rid of the addiction. The following two ways are especially helpful, being effectively used by doctors in many countries:

● programs focused on stopping a person from using the drug altogether; they are based on the assumption that the rejection of drug use can solve a whole range of issues in one go and protect a patient against the negative consequences of drug abuse. These programs are used in specialized drug treatment hospitals, clinics or rehabilitation centers. Hospitals typically use both pharmacotherapy and psychosocial activities, while rehabilitation centers solely focus on the psychosocial aspects. Some examples of programs promoting complete denial of drug use are a variety of rehabilitation programs, spiritual and religious guidance, medical, psychological or psycho-social education programs, self-help courses and mutual assistance activities as well as mandatory confinement and rehabilitation (for people who conducted crimes);
● programs aimed at reducing the harm from drug use; they are based on the assumption that definitive eradication of drug abuse as a social phenomenon is impossible. Instead, it offers to focus on solving urgent problems caused by drug abuse and minimize their consequences. Such programs involve special substitution therapy using certain types of drugs (for example, methadone, buprenorphine, etc.), in a non-injection way and under the supervision of doctors. Psychosocial measures can be used too.

In countries where modern principles of drug addiction treatment are being used, where nonrepressive methods are preferred and medical and psychosocial support is ubiquitous, these socially diseases can be to a large extent, though not altogether, effectively controlled. If the drug user gets quality treatment, he or she ceases to be a source of fueling the epidemic.

At the same time, if not getting this treatment, the person continues to be a source of risk for the other people and can cause the rise of an epidemic. It is also worth mentioning that the world has long ago decided whether drug addicts should be treated or not. The open questions now is only about which kinds of treatment could be the most universally effective and affordable.

The most dangerous types of social diseases

Some of the social diseases are especially dangerous and call for extraordinary measures to fight them. The spread of plague, cholera, anthrax in the present conditions can lead to mass illness and death of thousands of people within a very short period of time. They can endanger the security of regions and country at large as well as cause an irreparable damage to the economy.

In this situation, it is necessary to take urgent measures for localization and non-proliferation of a particular disease and provide treatment to a vast contingent of patients.

Under normal conditions, however, (i.e., non-mass character) the disease doesn’t usually represent a mass danger to other people and can be effectively fought.


Socially dangerous diseases are a global threat and challenge that entire mankind faces today. These diseases don’t mind national borders, race and age. Countries all over the world should unite within the World Health Organization to control these diseases on a global scale; national governments should actively seek all available means to help their citizens cope with these threats with a minimum damage to health and well-being of the latter.

For this reason, it is also very important for every person to understand the difference between infectious and noninfectious diseases and be able to recognize the basic symptoms for those. A person can be dying from cancer at its latest stages and still not carry any danger for surrounding people. At the same time, the smallest cough can be a symptom of tuberculosis which is very dangerous for everyone around. That’s why one can never underestimate the importance of observation and basic social and medical knowledge in recognizing socially dangerous disease and helping to fight them.

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