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Researchers join world leaders at World Health Summit

  • 01 May 2024


Brendan Crabb speaking at a podium.
Professor Brendan Crabb moderated a panel discussion on pandemic preparedness.

Burnet researchers joined health experts and world leaders from across the globe at the World Health Summit Regional Meeting 2024 held in Melbourne last week. 

Burnet was a Program Partner of the summit, which brought together leaders in global health, with the theme ‘Shape the future of health across Asia and the Pacific’. 

Hosted by Monash University and the Australian Global Health Alliance, the three-day summit had more than 1000 delegates and 150 speakers on a broad cross-section of global health concerns.  

Presenting on a range of issues, Burnet researchers shared insights and experiences on several global health priorities.  

Burnet Deputy Director Gender Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Caroline Homer AO said more is needed to be done to strengthen the health workforce's capacity to better identify, understand and respond to women’s health issues. 

"Healthcare workers, especially those on the frontline, need access to ongoing training and education in women’s health issues,” Professor Homer said in a discussion about achieving health equity. 

"Women’s health issues affect everyone, not just women, as they have flow-on effects for the wider community. We need to ensure their health issues are not ignored or dismissed.”  

Professor Homer also spoke about the importance of including women in clinical trials. 

"It can be challenging to involve pregnant or breastfeeding women in clinical trials, but this is a critical group who need a tailored approach to their healthcare needs,” she said.  

"Women need to have a seat at the decision-making table to enable them to have a say in the issues that concern them and to share their experiences and advocate for change.” 

Burnet Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb AC moderated a panel discussion on pandemic preparedness, entitled 'Is the world ready for the next pandemic?' which included insight from former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark. 

The discussion highlighted the need to learn from the experiences of COVID-19 to improve our future response.  

"Conversations about pandemics are something we have been discussing for decades, but the conversations are no longer theoretical,” he said.  

Professor Crabb said the biggest failing in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic was that it was inequitable. 

"It was a grossly inequitable response, whether it related to the availability of personal protective equipment or vaccines," he said. 

"Not only was our global response inequitable, but it also wasn’t smart to give preference to the developed world for vaccines, because the reason we still have COVID-19 today is because the virus was able to mutate so rapidly, due to spread in unvaccinated parts of the world." 

He said the hope was that by being better prepared we could prevent future pandemics by ensuring a novel pathogen Living and breathing health in a localised outbreak.  

Presentations at the World Health Summit were also made by Burnet researchers Paul Dietze on ‘Rethinking drug policy: Minimising harm and unintended consequences’, Suman Majumdar on ‘Emerging and re-emerging infectious health threats: Opportunities for effective regional coordination and leadership’ and ‘Covid-19: Are we prepared to make it the last pandemic?’ presented with Brendan Crabb, special advisor Bronwyn King on ‘Living and breathing health’ and board member Helen Evans on ‘Thriving Communities: Priorities for living well and living well together’.  

The next World Health Summit will be held in Berlin, Germany in October this year.