Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Communicable diseases in the South-East Asia Region of the World Health Organization: towards a more effective response

Indrani Gupta & Pradeep Guin

This article looks at the current burden of communicable diseases in the South-East Asia Region of the World Health Organization and analyses whether the current levels and trends in funding are adequate to meet the needs of control, prevention and treatment. Our analysis considers the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for health and indicators of economic progress in each country, as well as the impact of the global financial crisis on progress towards MDGs for communicable diseases in the region. The analysis indicates that the current focus of funding may need to be expanded to include less-discussed but high-burden diseases often related to inadequacies in the health sector and the particular development paths that countries pursue. Scarce funding during times of global economic recession could be used more effectively if informed by a careful analysis of the complex set of factors, including behavioural, environmental and health systems factors, that determine the burden of communicable diseases. Significant gaps in funding as well as varying regional needs warrant a more diverse set of national and international aid measures. Although regional and global collaboration is critical, the effectiveness of future policies to deal with the burden of communicable diseases in the region will only be assured if these policies are based on evidence and developed by policy-makers familiar with each country’s needs and priorities.