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“We can only solve problems together”

Infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance spread around the world via trade and travel routes. Together with partners in India and Uganda, the infectious diseases specialist Jan Fehr is looking for solutions to global health problems.

"When it comes to health challenges like antibiotic resistance, we are all in same boat, no matter which part of the world we live in", says infectious diseases specialist Jan Fehr.

Jan Fehr, you conduct research on global health. How global is our health these days?

Jan Fehr: It’s getting more and more global, with far-reaching consequences, as we saw with the Covid-19 pandemic. I’m currently planning a collaborative project with researchers in Bangalore, India. We’re aiming to improve our understanding of antibiotic resistance in infectious diseases and, in particular, tuberculosis. Antibiotic resistance is a big problem and is not just a local phenomenon. It needs to be understood in the context of One Health and Global Health, because it is spread around the world by people traveling. When it comes to health challenges like this, we are all in same boat, no matter which part of the world we live in. And therefore, we also need to work together to find solutions.

You have been researching diseases such as HIV/Aids, hepatitis and tuberculosis for many years now. How widespread are these diseases today?

They are still very much around and claim huge numbers of lives, especially in Africa. At the same time, these infectious diseases, in particular hepatitis and TB, are not much talked about, meaning we could call them “silent pandemics”. Covid-19 pushed them even further into the shadows. Nevertheless, the World Health Organization (WHO) aims to eradicate HIV/Aids, hepatitis and tuberculosis globally by 2030 and 2035 respectively. To achieve this, we need to start with the hotspots, the places with particularly virulent outbreaks.

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