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Cambridge Infectious Diseases

An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge

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Global Challenges

Global challenges, Cambridge solutions

The University of Cambridge is at the forefront of the search for solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems, seeking to be a global force for positive change. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 14 million people globally die each year from infectious diseases (i.e. one-fourth of total annual deaths). While the majority of these deaths occur in less wealthy countries, globalization and increased ease of travel have accelerated the speed within which infectious diseases are transmitted across the world. Moreover, in many wealthier countries, infectious diseases that were previously believed to be under control — such as tuberculosis, measles, and whooping cough — have returned at alarming rates. In all world sectors, infectious disease morbidity severely compromises not only the health of populations, but also impacts economic productivity and social stability.

Infectious diseases like malaria, TB, schistosomiasis, dengue fever, and Zika virus are responsible for large burdens of disease globally and are highly sensitive to changes in environmental conditions, including temperature, soil moisture and precipitation patterns, deforestation, dams and irrigation projects, and others. It’s an urgent priority to better understand how land management practices alter the risk of these diseases in different settings and what types of interventions can reduce exposure to these diseases. Most emerging diseases globally are zoonotic diseases (with both human and animal hosts), and clearer understanding of anthropogenic influences on the emergence of zoonotic diseases (like HIV and Ebola) is another priority.

See how our researchers are improving the lives of people around the world by finding solutions to reduce the global burden of infectious diseases and improve planetary health.


Infectious Diseases and Planetary Health

Read the latest from The Lancet Planetary Health journal: Planetary Health: a new discipline