Preventing Communicable and Noncommunicable Diseases

Investigate the global challenge of disease prevention - including both communicable and noncommunicable diseases.


Students explore the domestic and global impacts of disease, and learn about some of the strategies that Peace Corps volunteers are using to help reduce the risk of communicable and noncommunicable diseases in their host communities. Finally, each student will select a disease to research in depth.


Maintaining good health and preventing disease are important factors for a person’s quality of life. In developing and developed countries alike, health concerns pose serious economic and social challenges.

Preventable communicable, or infectious, diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS account for millions of deaths in the world each year, especially in low-income countries. Noncommunicable, or chronic, diseases like heart disease and diabetes are having an increasing effect across the globe.

Disease prevention depends on many factors like access to medical care and supplies, infrastructure, and quality health education. Ensuring equitable access to health care resources like these is a shared global responsibility.


You will research disease prevention issues and investigate how communicable and non-communicable diseases affect the world. You will explore how access to medical services and supplies, as well as access to health education, can play key roles in preventing disease.

Next, you will select one type of communicable or noncommunicable disease to research. Using the information you have collected, you will write a series of journal entries from the perspective of a person living with the disease. In your journal, you will describe the physical symptoms your narrator experiences, the impacts of the disease on his or her daily life, and what the narrator would want to tell others about preventing the disease.

Use the information collection worksheet to the right to record information as you work through the activity.


What are communicable and noncommunicable diseases?

Review the links below to learn more about two major types of diseases.

Communicable diseases, also known as infectious diseases:

Noncommunicable diseases, also known as chronic diseases:

What are some examples of communicable and noncommunicable diseases?

Create a Venn diagram to illustrate what communicable and noncommunicable diseases have in common, as well as what distinguishes these types of diseases from one another.

How do communicable diseases affect the world?

Look at the leading causes of death for low-income and high-income countries

Listen to the stories below from Peace Corps Volunteers who worked with their communities to reduce the spread of communicable diseases.

What resources for disease prevention were these Peace Corps Volunteers helping their communities access?

How do noncommunicable diseases affect the world?

Noncommunicable – or chronic – diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in the world. They make up a greater percentage of deaths in high-income countries than in low-income countries, including 7 out of every 10 deaths in the U.S. However, the total number of chronic disease deaths is still highest among developing countries.

Review each of the major risk factors for noncommunicable disease:

Which of these factors are most prevalent in your community? What do you think are the most effective ways to reduce these risks?

Watch the video below to learn how Peace Corps Volunteers have worked to address malaria - a communicable disease - in their communities.

Peace Corps Volunteer April Williamson describes an initiative to collect and distribute more than 2,000 bed nets across north-central Senegal to prevent the spread of malaria.

Fighting Malaria One Net at a Time

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