Infectious diseases continue to be most common reason for hospitalisation of young children in Western Australia and the number one cause of death in children worldwide.
The threat from infectious diseases is a growing problem due to globalisation, increased mobility, over-crowding, greater urbanisation and excessive antibiotic use.
Vaccines together with improved hygiene have made the biggest impact in reducing infectious diseases around the world. They are responsible for eradicating smallpox and virtually eliminating polio. Measles, diphtheria, and whooping cough infections are also at an all-time low thanks to vaccines.
By doing more research into their safe and most effective use there is enormous scope for vaccines to contribute even more to public health. This includes more research to understand what the burden of infectious diseases is in different populations, how this changes over time and what the most important risk factors are. At the same time, more basic research is needed to understand the mechanisms of disease and disease severity, and how vaccines work and could work better to provide better and longer protection. Not all serious infections can yet be prevented by vaccines, and more research to discover and develop new vaccines is needed, but also where vaccines are not available, not used, or not effective, better diagnostic tools that can tell in the shortest possible time whether a child has a serious infection or not and better and new ways to treat are needed.