• Vol. 48 No. 6, 188–194
  • 15 June 2019

Megatrends in Infectious Diseases: The Next 10 to 15 Years



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It has been about 100 years since the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918-19 that killed an estimated 50 million individuals globally. While we have made remarkable progress in reducing infection-related mortality, infections still account for 13 to 15 million deaths annually. This estimate is projected to remain unchanged until 2050. We have identified 4 megatrends in infectious diseases and these are “emerging and re-emerging infections”, “antimicrobial resistance”, “demographic changes” and “technological advances”. Understanding these trends and challenges should lead to opportunities for the medical community to reshape the future. Further inroads will also require broad approaches involving surveillance, public health and translating scientific discoveries into disease control efforts.

Microbial threats to human health have existed for thousands of years.1,2 In the past, infectious diseases presented some of the most defining challenges of human existence.3 Great pandemics and local epidemics have influenced wars and the fate of countries and empires.4 As recently as 30 years ago, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic caused devastating loss of at least 1 generation of adults in some African countries, setting back years of progress.

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