We’re entering a crucial decade in global health. A decade that could define how the world copes with challenges through the next century.
With a robust resolve, we can confront new threats, and advance life-saving innovations. We can discover the solutions that can protect the world's most vulnerable people from disease, and advance the goal of universal health coverage.
This year, we’re going to be talking about these issues in our new Future Health campaign. We will be publishing our positions on how we believe each issue can be treated and how governments, NGOs, philanthropists and the international community at large can work together to overcome these challenges.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) — a process that occurs when microorganisms mutate and develop the ability to withstand the effects of medicines designed to kill them — contributes to at least 700,000 deaths globally every year. By 2050, this figure could stand at 10 million — with most lives lost in low and middle income countries (LMICs) — and AMR could cost the global economy US$100 trillion (£805 billion).
Although AMR is a naturally occurring phenomenon, the scale and speed with which microbes are developing resistance has accelerated in recent years due to a range of human and environmental factors. AMR threatens to reverse decades of progress across the health and environmental sectors.
Infectious diseases are the leading cause of death of under-fives globally and are responsible for nearly half of all child deaths annually. Immunisation against these illnesses is one of the most effective means of preventing their spread and severity. While vaccines for many of the most life-threatening diseases exist, there is currently no commercially available vaccine against malaria, a disease that causes 405,000 deaths every year. To keep populations healthy and save lives, we believe it is crucial that the global community continues to support and invest in vaccine development.
In the last 130 years the earth’s temperature has risen by approximately 0.85°C, with each of the last three decades hotter than the one before. Rising global temperatures damage ecosystems, endanger coastal areas and increase the risk of extreme weather, affecting many of the social and environmental determinants of health. Changes in climatic conditions can also alter the incidence, transmission and distribution of infectious diseases. Recognising that climate change has the potential to affect health and disease outcomes for people across the countries in which we work, we believe it is essential to continue to incorporate responses to climate-related risks into our programmes.
Dengue is the world’s fastest growing vector-borne disease and the second most important mosquito-borne public health threat after malaria. To tackle the disease, we urgently need to increase funding for vaccine development, improve real-time case surveillance systems, strengthen vector control tools, amplify community engagement and enhance global collaboration.
Our digital health work focuses on providing technical advice to governments on the implementation of digital health strategies to strengthen disease surveillance and community-based primary healthcare, and conducting operational research to build the evidence base for digital health development.