The Burnet Institute managed AusAID China-Australia Health and HIV/AIDS Facility (CAHHF) helped facilitate the visit, which was also attended by senior health officials from China’s Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Australian Department of Health and Ageing (DOHA).
Minister Roxon signed a Plan of Action with Minister Chen, to continue bi-lateral collaboration in the areas of health systems strengthening, responding to emerging infectious diseases, chronic disease prevention and management and food safety.
Both Ministers noted the successful collaborative work undertaken to date under CAHHF and Minister Roxon encouraged further collaboration using the CAHHF model.
“I understand that CAHHF could develop a project proposal to take forward the outcomes of the dialogue and I look forward to our officials considering this and other new mechanisms for cooperation in the discussions that will follow later today,” Minister Roxon said.
Minister Roxon expressed particular interest in short-term collaboration in tobacco control and responding to emerging infectious diseases and long-term collaboration in health financing and e-health initiatives.
Minister Chen summarised the health reform priorities under China’s new Five Year Development Plan. He noted that the Ministry of Health will increasingly focus on chronic diseases, such as diabetes and various cancers, as China faces increasing challenges associated with an aging population and changing lifestyles.
Dr Chris Morgan from Burnet’s Centre for International Health chaired a fruitful panel discussion on emerging infectious diseases involving senior staff from China MOH’s disease control agencies, the Acting Chief Medical Officer of Australia, and senior staff from DOHA’s Office of Health Protection.
This followed an earlier panel on chronic disease and mental health. Additional expert comment was provided by CAHHF partners Dr Chee Ng (Asia-Australia Mental Health), Associate Professor George Liu (La Trobe University), Dr Paul Armstrong (Western Australian Communicable Disease Control Directorate) and Dr Jack Chen (University of NSW).
This dialogue was significant for Burnet given the prominence accorded to CAHHF as a useful mechanism to undertake joint work on health systems and disease control, and acknowledgement of CAHHF’s contribution to effective policy engagement.
CAHHF activities in China were highlighted in the meeting through an excellent poster exhibition and participation by representatives from over 20 Chinese institutions undertaking CAHHF-funded work in China. It was pleasing to see the attention paid to this work, and our Institute, by the delegation of senior DOHA and MOH officials and by both health ministers.
CAHHF is an innovative form of international development that prioritises the leadership of the recipient government in defining how aid funds can help them better. CAHHF has supported 39 research activities on health system reform, emerging infectious disease and HIV/AIDS. The activities aim to provide MOH data and evidence to enable better policy making, in particular in the key priority areas of its health care reform. Another important feature of the Facility is its aim to instigate and or strengthen partnerships between Chinese and Australian academic, governmental and non-governmental institutions.