Communicable diseases – avoiding unnecessary suffering

A woman researcher checking a test.
The SDC supports research and development projects on new medicines in its fight against neglected tropical diseases. © SDC / John Paul Kay

Communicable diseases create a great deal of human suffering, hinder development and make it more difficult for people to break out of the poverty trap. In order to combat communicable diseases, the SDC prioritises prevention, treatment, and the research and development of new medicines and diagnostic tools. Here the main focus is on malaria, neglected tropical diseases, diarrhoea, acute respiratory illnesses and lung infections. 

The SDC's focus

The SDC contributes to the fight against malaria, TB, HIV/AIDS and neglected tropical diseases through its bilateral and multilateral partnerships.


In 2018, a child died of malaria every two minutes – in spite of major progress in this area and the fact that malaria is a preventable and treatable disease.

That is why in countries plagued by malaria the SDC provides funding for mosquito nets, strengthening health systems and promoting local community initiatives.

At the international level it also supports global initiatives such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, recognised research institutes and public-private partnerships – pioneers in the research and development of prevention methods, treatments and innovative diagnostic tools that can be brought onto the market quickly, in particular for poorer population groups.

The Swiss Malaria Group (SMG) was established on the SDC's initiative in 2007. With the SDC's support, the group brings together research institutes, public institutions, private industry and civil society organisations based in Switzerland.

The SMG's vision is to raise awareness among decision-makers and the Swiss public with the aim of:

  • advancing Switzerland's leading role in the fight against malaria;
  • strengthening research and innovation;
  • combating malaria effectively on the ground.

Neglected tropical diseases

More than a billion people worldwide suffer from neglected tropical diseases such as dengue fever, sleeping sickness and leishmaniosis. Access to medical products for these diseases is often lacking, which affects the poorer sections of a population in particular. That is why the SDC supports public-private partnerships to research and develop new medicines and tools for prevention and diagnostics against such neglected tropical diseases. It also works together with other Swiss federal offices at the international level to advocate improving access to medical products.


The SDC supports HIV/AIDS programmes and prioritises prevention and reducing stigma and discrimination against people who are HIV-positive through its multisectoral approach. The causes and effects of HIV/AIDS go far beyond the health sector and extend to areas such as education, work, nutrition, the law and the economy. That is why Switzerland is committed to a comprehensive approach to the HIV/AIDS problem in all its facets within the framework of sexual and reproductive health and rights. SDC projects in countries with a high HIV/AIDS prevalence address the issue systematically.

Switzerland plays an active role in the global fight against HIV/AIDS by supporting international organisations such as UNAIDS, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the World Health Organization (WHO).


A constant threat

Although more than one billion people continue to be affected by neglected tropical diseases, there is often a lack of efficacious and safe treatments – the low purchasing power of the people who are primarily affected by such diseases is hardly an incentive for the research-based pharmaceuticals industry to invest in researching and developing new medicines. That is why the SDC works with public-private partnerships in order to fill this gap.


Thanks to international efforts to combat malaria between 2000 and 2018, the number of cases went down by more than a third; the number of malaria-related deaths was even halved. This progress was made possible by massive investments and improved coordination between the global actors. However, resistance to medicines and insecticides is becoming a major problem and threatens to undermine everything that has been achieved so far – unless new, efficacious products can be developed.

In terms of access to medical products, there is international demand for Switzerland's major research capabilities, expertise, products and technologies on offer, which can make a key difference for the sustainable development of a country. The SDC makes all of these assets available in order to help resolve global health issues.

Current projects

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Building Damage Assessment in Albania

01.04.2024 - 31.12.2027

The devastating earthquake in 2019 revealed that Albania has a weak policy and institutional framework and low public awareness on building damage assessment. The Swiss project will support Albania in strengthening its disaster risk management institutions at national and municipal level to provide sustainable and effective building damage assessment services, leading to safer living conditions and a more disaster resilient business environment.

8th Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, Geneva, June 2025

01.03.2024 - 31.12.2025

The Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction is the most important international conference to discuss progress in the implementation of the Sendai Framework for DRR. The eighth session of the Global Platform will be hosted by Switzerland in Geneva in June 2025. It will review advances in the realisation of the calls to action made in 2023 by the United Nations General Assembly on the midterm review of the Sendai Framework and will be key for the identification and support of measures to accelerate DRR implementation and improve coherence with the Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement.

Appui aux Programmes PASEC et PACTE de la CONFEMEN (Conférence des Ministres de l’Education des Etats et Gouvernements de la Francophonie)

01.03.2024 - 28.02.2028

En soutenant le Programme d’Analyse des Systèmes Educatifs (PASEC) et le Programme d’Appui à la Transformation de l’Education (PACTE) de la Conférence des Ministres de l’Education de la Francophonie (CONFEMEN), la Suisse contribue au renforcement de l’accès et de la qualité de l’éducation dans ses pays prioritaires en Afrique de l’Ouest. Des analyses approfondies des systèmes éducatifs sont réalisées, et les résultats permettent d’orienter les politiques éducatives pour une efficacité accrue.

UNHAS - Accès aux bénéficiaires en Afrique de l’Ouest

01.03.2024 - 31.12.2027

Dans un contexte d’insécurité alimentaire croissante et d’accès humanitaire précaire au Sahel, le service aérien humanitaire des Nations Unies (UNHAS) permet d’accéder aux populations dans le besoin grâce à un transport sûr et rapide de personnes et de biens. La contribution à UNHAS permettra d’atteindre les populations vulnérables dans les régions reculées ou enclavées et d’assurer le suivi des programmes suisses.

Addressing Climate and El Niño-related Risks in Southeast Asia

01.02.2024 - 31.07.2025

Through an innovative partnership with the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC) and Geoneon, the SDC will support the creation of high-quality geospatial data products to support riskinformed and climate-smart decision-making in development cooperation and DRM in priority subnational areas in Lao PDR and Indonesia, contributing to and complementing efforts under the SERVIR Southeast Asia project implemented by ADPC and supported by USAID and NASA.

UNHCR Digital Hub of Treasury Solutions (DHoTS)

01.02.2024 - 31.01.2026

Switzerland supports UNHCR’s Digital Hub of Treasury Solutions to create a UN Center of Excellence (CoE) in Geneva. It will facilitate the UN System’s and its partners’ access to global financial ecosystems and markets. It will trigger collaboration opportunities for advancing new cutting-edge capabilities and technologies, support preparedness and readiness in humanitarian emergencies for the delivery of aid assistance and financial inclusion and reduce financial transaction costs.

Climate & Socially Resilient Livelihoods’ Support (CSRLS)

01.02.2024 - 30.04.2028

The climatic challenges exacerbate Afghanistan's already fragile socio-economic condition. The project by the Afghan NGO, The Liaison Office, aims to sustainably improve lives and livelihoods of the poorest households in selected provinces by strengthening the natural resource base, climate change resilient and diversified livelihoods, relationships within and between communities, as well as joint climate action.

Accelerating the implementation of international commitments towards locally led humanitarian action 2024-2025

01.02.2024 - 30.06.2025

Locally led humanitarian action, development and peacebuilding (LLHDP) receives greater attention in international cooperation. Switzerland has a long tradition in working on LLHDP but lacks a coherent approach in taking this further. Through initiatives under this credit proposal SDC is making a meaningful contribution to the implementation of international commitments and efforts on LLHDP. This includes greater goal setting and progress on LLHDP, action-oriented research and catalytic actions to address specific blockages across the sector.

UNICEF, EMOPS Geneva, Core Contribution 2024-2025

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2025

The Office of Emergency Programmes (EMOPS) ensures that the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) role in complex emergencies is clearly defined, the organization properly equipped and prepared to deliver its mandate to support the needs of children. SDC’s support to EMOPS in Geneva enables UNICEF to lead inter-agency humanitarian coordination, response and standard setting in Water and Sanitation (WASH), Education, Nutrition and Child Protection.

Safeguard Young People (SYP) - Tanzania

Safeguard Young People Programme

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2026

With 62% of its population below 25 years, the Safeguard Young People (SYP) programme supports Tanzania’s demographic dividend. The project advances young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) through a gender-responsive and inclusive policy environment, empowered youth who make informed decisions, and responsive health and education systems. SYP builds on 10 years of regional experience and UNFPA’s expertise.

Contribution to Medicus Mundi Switzerland (MMS) Network

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2027

Medicus Mundi Switzerland is a Network of 49 Swiss non-governmental organisations, foundations and scientific institutions involved in health advocacy at global level and health programmes in lowand middle-income countries. Taking a multisectoral approach and fostering open dialogue with relevant actors, decision-makers and the broader public, the Network facilitates the exchange of knowledge and experience and contributes to finding solutions to global health challenges.

CABI PlantwisePlus

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2027

PlantwisePlus is a global programme that is supporting countries and farmers to predict, prevent and prepare themselves for plant health threats in a changing climate. This will allow farmers to reduce their crop losses and produce more and safer food using agroecological and climate-smart practices that safeguard human health and biodiversity. The programme is implemented by CABI, a leading intergovernmental research and development organization in plant health, with research facilities in Switzerland.

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