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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Research for action

01.01.2027 - 31.12.2030

The 2017 Joint Monitoring Report, published in July, states that serious efforts have been made since the Millennium Development Goals to improve access to safe water and sanitation around the world. However, disparities remain, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and for the rural poor, more drastic for sanitation. This project aims to reduce this gap, by supporting applied research, transformative innovations, capacity development and networking, which will answer to the needs and requirements of the targeted population.

Nurturing Active and Responsible Citiziens

01.01.2027 - 31.12.2030

Molodova's democracy is still young and fragile. The population is disinclined to participate in decision-making, to practice democrtatic values and to demand their rights. Schools have an important role in educating active and responsive citizens, but are not well prepared for it. By improving democratic school governance and introducing practical civic education, Switzerland will support Moldova in raising civic consciousness of chlidren and adolescents, and engaging them in ther communities.

Global Water Security and Sanitation Partnership to achieve a water-secure world for all

01.07.2026 - 31.12.2030

The Global Water Security and Sanitation Partnership (GWSP) of the World Bank Water Global Practice is a global partnership with the objective to address the water and sanitation challenge in an integrated manner, as set out by the Global Sustainable Development Goal 6. This SDC support will promote innovative global knowledge production and exchange, dialogue and partnerships, as well as country-level support across regions at global scale.

UN-Water: Strengthening the Global Water Architecture for the effective achievement of the 2030 Agenda

01.01.2026 - 31.12.2030

UN-Water has now firmly established itself as a major actor in water and in coordinating UN agencies to speak as one voice for water. SDC’s support to UN-Water’s core budget is crucial to ensure that the political ambition of the 2030 Agenda for water and its related targets has an efficient institutional setting allowing an integrated monitoring and an efficient follow-up and review and strong coordination between UN agencies. UN-Water will be key to bring a more effective, integrated and coordinated approach to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda with regards to water and sanitation and to review progress.

Economic Policy for Inclusive Growth

01.01.2026 - 31.12.2029

The planned intervention aims at supporting inclusive growth that improves the living standards for the Mozambicans, in particular women and youth. It will be pursued through increased analytical capacity and better informed policy making, by means of focussed support to economic analysis and discussion in and between government and non-government institutions. Emphasis on non-government institutions will enhance the demand for and accountability for effective policy making for inclusive growth

Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) – “Making markets work to improve the consumption of nutritious and healthy food”

01.01.2026 - 31.12.2026

Poor-quality diets have become the number-one risk factor for ill health. The quality of people’s diets depends on food systems which shape the demand, availability, affordability, and desirability of safe, nutritious foods. By supporting the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), a Swiss foundation, SDC aims at enabling small and medium size businesses in low- and middle-income countries to become accountable producers of safe nutritious products for all - women, children and vulnerable people alike. It will leverage the Swiss experience in collaboration between public and private actors.

Global Measurement of Diet Quality

01.01.2025 - 31.12.2025

Diets are the number one risk factor in the global burden of disease and multiple forms of malnutrition co-exist with overweight and obesity being the fastest growing form, particularly among poor populations in developing countries. Routinely collected information on Diet Quality is necessary to better understand dietary trends, help to create awareness, and inform policies to improve diets and health outcomes. Therefore, SDC supports an international initiative to develop diet quality measurements.

UN Joint Programme on Youth Employment

01.01.2025 - 31.12.2028

Cambodia is the most youthful country in South East Asia with more than 50% of the population below 25 years. The key challenge of Cambodia is to create decent and productive employment opportunities for new entrants to the labour market. With its contribution, SDC addresses the challenge by enabling young people to have access to skills and quality education and employment whilst promoting rightful and decent working conditions.

Program contribution to OHCHR for promotion and protection of human rights in the oPt

01.01.2025 - 31.12.2029

Switzerland supports the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) to contribute to the effective realization of adherence to human rights and international humanitarian law in the oPt and to influence the behaviour of the relevant duty bearers. OHCHR has an exceptional role both in the humanitarian and development spheres in the oPt’s complex context of multiple duty bearers and harsh political and humanitarian realities.

Horn of Africa: One Health Units for Humans, Environment, Animals and Livelihoods

01.09.2024 - 30.06.2032

The project aims at improving the well-being of targeted pastoral communities challenged with inadequate access to basic health/veterinary services and environmental conditions in Somalia, Ethiopia and Northern Kenya through integrated health service delivery for both pastoralists and their livestock. The project will contribute to stability and vulnerability’s reduction of citizens in the region, thereby reducing their displacement/migration which is in the interest of Switzerland and the international community.

Solar Irrigation for Agriculture Resilience (SoLAR)

01.07.2024 - 31.07.2027

To adapt to climate change farmers rely increasingly on irrigation, ultimately depleting groundwater resources and raising energy demand. The project aims to address these challenges by promoting solar irrigation, water efficient agriculture and groundwater governance. The project will harness Swiss expertise on hydrogeology and technical innovations to contribute to climate resilient agriculture and facilitate knowledge sharing in South Asia and at the global level.

Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies (Sustainable Develoment Goal 16+)

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2030

The promotion of peaceful, just and inclusive societies (SDG16) is integral to the success of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. In order to accelerate its implementation, a group of UN Member States are coming together to leveraging intersections within the Agenda (16+) and to accelerate national and international implementation, while building a movement of the willing around three grand challenges. Switzerland is a co-convener, a member and a donor to this initiative.

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