With the rapid onset of globalization, there are a large number of political, economic and social factors which are constantly changing. These all have profound effects on the demographics of individual populations. This shift in social demography is accompanied by an epidemiologic transition as well.
In order to gain an understanding of epidemiologic transition, it is necessary to understand the study of epidemiology. Epidemiology is defined as, "the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events in specified populations, and the application of this study to the prevention and control of health problems." By observing past data from epidemiologic studies and comparing it with data from current studies, one can begin to obtain a picture of the changing causes and manifestations of disease and death in a population. It is also useful to take changing environmental factors into account (such as tobacco/alcohol use, dietary standards, working conditions and water quality) when determining which stage of epidemiologic transition a certain population is in.
Customarily, epidemiologic transition follows a predictable pattern. Omran points out that "during the transition, a long-term shift occurs in mortality and disease patterns whereby pandemics of infection are gradually displaced by degenerative and man-made diseases as the chief form of morbidity and primary cause of death"'. When developing countries undergo industrialization and modernization, they are better able to deal with infectious diseases due to increased resources, access to medical care, and education. The "degenerative and man-made" diseases which follow are also thought of as "chronic", or "non-communicable diseases". They include things such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, lung disease and various forms of cancer.
There is great importance in discovering the state of epidemiologic transition which a country is in. Once one finds out the relative prevalence of chronic diseases as compared to that of infectious diseases, one can modify the health system in order to better accommodate the health needs of the population. Since the health status of a nation is constantly in transition, it is necessary to change the delivery method of care in order to most effectively combat the health problems present. More funds can be allocated for prevention of certain types of disease and death over other types. Policies may be enacted which could benefit the health status of a larger percentage of people with less money spent.
It is evident that Tunisia is experiencing epidemiological transition. Within the last 15 years, we have seen total mortality is decreasing, life expectancy is increasing, and lifestyles associated with chronic disease, particularly diabetes and CVD, are being adopted. The purpose of this thesis is to answer the question, "What is the current stage of epidemiologic transition is Tunis, Tunisia?"