Over the past two decades the world has seen tremendous medical advances in modern wound care and lymphoedema management, principally due to new scientific knowledge, techniques and materials. These advances have occurred mainly in the developed countries. The diagnosis and treatment of chronic wounds and lymphoedema, both primary and secondary in aetiology, involves all medical specialties and all ages. The management of diseases and conditions such as diabetes mellitus, venous ulceration, pressure ulcers, traumatic wounds and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)-related wounds have benefited from improved medical knowledge and technology, leading to better care and reduction in both morbidity and economic burden. Additionally, it is anticipated that using modern wound care methods for wounds related to leprosy, Buruli ulcer, trauma and common tropical ulcers will also lead to significant benefits.