Today’s infectious diseases landscape

Understanding the global challenge

Infectious diseases are an ever-present threat to the health and welfare of the world’s population. There is no section of society, rich or poor, that is untouched. Without timely intervention and preventative measures,  disease can spread rapidly with sometimes catastrophic effects.

Healthcare professionals face a number of hurdles in their efforts to limit the spread of disease. Increasing global travel, lifestyle changes, population growth and even climate change have all had an impact. While the threat posed by some diseases is receding, new emerging pathogens are challenging established screening and treatment processes.

Lab Test

As a healthcare provider, we push boundaries and challenge the status quo to redefine what’s possible.

The right diagnosis is essential in the quest for new treatments and potential cures for the world’s serious health problems.

Roche’s commitment to research and development – with Diagnostics investing CHF 1.5bn in 2018 - brings advanced solutions in diagnostic testing, laboratory efficiency and decision support software to market.

Major infectious diseases by the numbers

Knowing what we are up against is the first step in setting a course of action.

Explore the disease prevalence maps below to better understand the global burden of infectious disease.

Factors driving the danger of disease

The fight against the spread of disease faces threats on several fronts.
Take, for example, silent, asymptomatic or subclinical infections. These pose significant challenges to halting the spread of infectious diseases, as well as impacting patients’ own health in the long-term.

Silent diseases
Asymptomatic infections may also be able to transmit disease unknowingly to
others while their own illness lingers untreated, causing longer term damage to their health. Or, it may become the underlying cause of another, more serious illness, such as human papillomavirus (HPV) which has been linked to a number of cancers including cervical cancer in women, as well as being the cause of various cancers in men. Reliable diagnostics help detect and monitor for silent infections, reducing the spread of infection and improving disease and patient management.


Drug resistance

Prevention of the spread of disease becomes doubly important at a time when the world faces the growing threat of drug resistance.1 Unregulated access and inappropriate use of pharmaceuticals2 has led to growing rates of drug resistance, resulting in tens of thousands of avoidable deaths3 every year. An estimated 70%  of the two million4 hospital infections in the US are resistant to at least one antibiotic. Control over multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and resistance to antiretrovirals for HIV are just two of the diseases at risk from resistance.

Established protocols exist for managing the spread, testing and treatment of
most known diseases. However, communities also come under threat from
emerging pathogens whose origins, modes of transmission, and epidemiology are initially unclear.

Emerging diseases

As recently as 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a public health emergency as health professionals battled to understand and manage the spread of the Zika virus5, now known to cause congenital brain abnormalities and trigger Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Roche’s commitment to improving public health measures and its rigorous testing process has made a significant contribution to diminishing the threat of Zika, to the point where the disease is now no longer considered an emergency, but still presents a significant challenge. Access to innovative diagnostic solutions helps identify and remove donations potentially infected with Zika virus from the supply of blood products. This is a significant achievement in delivering a rapid response to this global health emergency.

Looking ahead

The continued management of infectious diseases presents distinct challenges for healthcare professionals.

With the assistance of dependable diagnostic solutions, clinicians need to be able to identify the greatest threats to health and design an appropriate response. This may mean localised prevention, individual treatment post-infection, or contributing to widespread policy change at national or international levels. Roche has a proud history of delivering advanced testing that delivers increasingly precise information, saving lives. Diagnostics continues to build on our legacy of life-changing, life-saving innovation.

Read how healthcare is responding to this challenge
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  1. UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research & Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR).
    Globalization and infectious diseases: A review of the linkages Accessed 13Jan2022.
  2. European Centre of Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). 33000 people die every year due to infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Accessed 13Jan2022.
  3. Centre for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP). Overuse and overprescribing of antibiotics. Accessed 13Jan2022.
  4. World Health Organization. Statement on the first meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee on Zika virus and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations. Accessed 13Jan2022.
  5. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. WHO ends Zika as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Accessed 13Jan2022.