Spread of Diseases

The Eternal Enemy: Old and new diseases pose real threat to humankind

Rapid urbanization, on-going globalization of trade and travel, over- and misuse of medicines as well as changing climate conditions shift the frequency and relative impact of diseases.

The world faced several infectious disease crises over the past years (Zika, Ebola, SARS, etc.). In an increasingly globally linked world, the spread of diseases is much more rapid, increasing the probability of a global pandemic, with millions of deaths and huge economic and social damages. It is estimated that at least one pandemic will emerge over the next 100 years, with a 20 % chance of even 4 or more. Climate Change also does affect infectious diseases occurrence and transmission patterns. For instance, rising temperatures affect the geographical range and seasonality of mosquitos and related vector-borne diseases like malaria.

Due to asset of factors, including poverty, scares over vaccines, poor hygiene and antibiotic resistance, diseases that were thought to have been controlled have re-emerged worldwide for instance measles in the U.S. and pestin Africa. Overuse and misuse of antibiotics causes resistances and hence destroys their effectiveness.

Already today, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer and diabetes are the leading cause of death worldwide. Appropriately they are called the silent pandemic.


Livestock farming consumes about 2/3 (or 63 kt) of all antibiotics produced globally. By 2030 consumption is projected to rise to 100 kt. In 2015 New Zealand has set goals for its meat to be free of antibiotics by 2030.