Art work
Reaching the limit
Uli Reinhardt
The world’s poorest areas have a disproportionate incidence of
malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis that are exacerbated by other
inequalities related to age, gender, and migration status.
Equity is the only acceptable goal.
Paul Farmer


The key elements in the control of diseases are: diagnosis, prevention and treatment.

The explosive development of different technologies such as genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics and nanotechnology, among others, have allowed the achievement of highly efficient diagnostic methods that are generally sophisticated and expensive.

Despite the wide range of commercial diagnoses, covering a large spectrum of technological platforms, still millions of people suffer from malaria, AIDS, tuberculosis, respiratory and digestive infections, mainly in low resource areas.

Due to various factors, a large part of humanity live in situations of extreme poverty. These low-resource areas are characterized by the absence of clean water, extreme temperatures, minimal or non-existent infrastructure, lack of electricity, refrigeration and skilled personnel, for which sophisticated and expensive auxiliary diagnostic methods are impossible to use.

Without a reliable diagnosis, ineffective treatment is associated with the increase of morbidity, mortality, and antibiotic resistance, which configure a dangerous epidemiological scenario, associated with epidemics and high rate of transmission. In a borderless world, this situation becomes a global problem, which demands attention and focus on the most important diseases of low-resource areas

Considering this reality, the challenge is to address the development of optimized methods, for those difficult scenarios, with the help of the most advanced technological platforms but with affordable prices for economically deprived regions.

Designing diagnostics for the bottom billions is a surmountable task but of ethical imperative.

This book has been conceived to contribute to the development of new diagnostic methods for low-resource areas, which is a priority objective of the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), presenting specific examples of technological pathways which could lead to the development of affordable, sensitive and specific methods; easy to use, fast, robust, without sophisticated equipment, optimized to poor regions of the world.

The images from low-resource areas, belonging to different geographical regions, included in each section and chapter, give a glimpse of the complex reality of the poor areas of the world and are a call for urgent actions to effectively contribute to  the control of health problems in these communities, in the context of their highly specific, dynamic and unique socioeconomic environments, frequently complicated by natural disasters, armed conflicts, migrations and ecological imbalances, among other factors.

This book aims to review and discuss some of the aspects related to the development of diagnostic methods for low-resource areas. Most of the authors participating in this initiative are involved in research and development in this field, and have kindly contributed chapters tailored for this purpose.

This is our modest contribution to improve the health of the poorest areas of the world

The editors