Crisis Points: Climate Change, Infectious Diseases, and the Urgent Role of Pharmaceutical Companies in Global Health

An urgent need for pharmaceutical companies to address the health impacts of the climate crisis due to the rising trends of infectious diseases.

Climate change not only afflicts the planet but also fosters a breeding ground for infectious illnesses and resilient superbugs, imperiling the well-being and lives of millions globally. Significantly, extreme temperatures and air pollution exacerbate viral respiratory ailments and mosquito-borne illnesses, possibly sowing the seeds for the next epidemic or pandemic.

Considering the correlation between climate and health, the pharmaceutical sector bears a distinct obligation to take action, not solely in reducing its carbon footprint but also in addressing the adverse health impacts of the climate crisis. Beyond mere prevention, pharmaceutical companies must also address the existing health consequences of climate change, particularly the surge of superbugs and infectious diseases that are currently rampant.

Presently, nearly two-thirds of diseases affecting humans are spurred by escalating temperatures and climate-related hazards. Escalating floods, cyclones, and droughts impede access to clean water, fostering ideal conditions for diseases like cholera to flourish. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 44 countries reported an increase of 25% in cholera cases from 2021, a trend that continued in 2023.

Simultaneously, a warmer global climate fosters a fertile environment for the rapid proliferation of drug resistance. Consequently, treating infectious diseases with existing medications becomes increasingly challenging, with fatal consequences — 1.27 million fatalities were attributed to drug-resistant infections in 2019 alone.

The Crisis of Anti-Infectives

Despite the stark reality, numerous pharmaceutical companies have withdrawn from the anti-infectives market. Furthermore, the few remaining companies lack substantial investment in targeting and treating infectious diseases. 

Beyond the imperative of shielding society from future epidemics or pandemics, individuals worldwide presently require access to anti-infectives to combat infectious diseases. While these medications exist, many individuals, particularly those in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), face barriers in obtaining them, resulting in preventable loss of life. 

For instance, Tuberculosis (TB) is a preventable and treatable ailment, yet in 2022, it claimed 1.3 million lives, ranking as the second most lethal infectious disease after COVID-19. Moreover, only two out of five individuals diagnosed with multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB were able to access treatment for it in 2022.

In a 2021 report, it was highlighted that society heavily relies on biotech companies to introduce crucial new antibiotics and antifungals to the market. However, these smaller enterprises encounter significant hurdles in securing the necessary funding and resources to bring even the most promising products to patients. 

Urgently, pharmaceutical companies active in this domain must expand the accessibility and affordability of their existing products.


Certainly, the climate crisis significantly impacts health, contributing to the surge of non-communicable diseases like asthma and respiratory illnesses induced by air pollution. However, effectively combating the threat posed by infectious diseases necessitates more urgent action from pharmaceutical companies. 

While there isn’t a miraculous solution for climate change, pharmaceutical companies possess the means to tackle some of its most lethal manifestations. By ensuring that their climate initiatives extend beyond merely reducing carbon emissions and encompass commitments to health, these companies can safeguard both the planet and the lives of its inhabitants.

The world places its reliance on this industry to navigate this challenge accurately and effectively.

India’s first climate action platform, The Disposal Company, is paving the way for a greener future by providing brands with the tools they need to achieve plastic neutrality and carbon neutrality. Learn more here.

Mousona Poddar

A passionate Content Writer who helps to scale your business by words with excellent research skills.

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