Communicable Diseases

Diseases Transmitted by Bacteria and Viruses

Communicable diseases remain a major global public health threat worldwide. For example, malaria and HIV/AIDS are mass killers, with the populations in poor countries being hit the hardest.  In addition, rapidly developing microbial resistance has led to a new dimension of threat posed by infectious disease. For instance, even though tuberculostatic medicines exist and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis are treatable, millions of people still die of tuberculosis each year.

While in the past, the development of a global pandemic took months or even years, the world is now faced with the possibility of pandemics spreading across the globe within a few days. With the outbreak of SARS in 2002, it became clear that intensive intercontinental travel of humans allows dangerous infections to travel more quickly.   Even climate change is impacting the incidence of communicable diseases. With this stark reality in mind, preventive and containment measures for communicable diseases must be a priority.

In 1996, the World Medical Association issued the first version of its policy on Resistance to Antimicrobial Drugs. This policy warned that if appropriate measures were not taken, microbial resistance would become a major problem for medicine. However, this call for action was not heeded. With a few exceptions, no proper action was taken, and the worst predictions relating to resistance became a reality. Antimicrobial drug resistance is now one of the most common reasons for fatal outcomes caused by infections, a situation which could have been prevented.