Progress being made in fight against communicable disease, report says

Research from the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies has found that progress has been made in fighting communicable diseases around the globe.

In the third volume out of five released on human progress called "Improving Global Health: Forecasting the Next 50 Years," the authors point out that a transition is occurring from fighting against communicable disease burdens to chronic ones like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

"Because of great advances, the number of deaths globally from communicable diseases has fallen significantly compared to deaths from chronic diseases, which primarily affect the elderly," Barry Hughes, director of the Pardee Center and one of the volume’s authors, said. "This transformation is proceeding, and more rapidly and universally than most have realized."

While there are already statistics that show a 50 percent higher rate of death globally from chronic disease than from communicable diseases, there are more potential years of life lost to communicable diseases due to their killing more infants and children. By 2020, chronic diseases will catch up and take more years of life than communicable ones.

"We're bringing the communicable diseases under control - malaria for example - with interventions such as more bed netting to protect from mosquitoes; AIDS death rates are also on a downward trend," Hughes said.

Hughes and the other authors report that the barriers to fighting disease include obesity rates, environmental impacts, money, knowledge and technology.