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Burnet Institute has warmly welcomed the Australian Government’s new Indo-Pacific Health Security Initiative to combat the challenges of existing and emerging infectious diseases for Australia and our region.
Burnet Institute Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb AC described the Initiative as one of the most significant investments in regional health in recent times.
Announced by Australian Foreign Minster The Hon Julie Bishop MP, the Initiative includes an investment of AUD$300 million over five years to support efforts to prevent and contain disease outbreaks that have the potential to cause large scale economic impacts on a national, regional or global scale.
Led by a new Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Initiative will strengthen health systems and invest in research and partnerships to mitigate the social and economic risks of a major disease outbreak.
“The impact of outbreaks of infectious diseases and epidemics in the region cannot be underestimated for the cost they have on human lives, societies, and broader economic and social development,” Professor Crabb said.
“An investment in health systems strengthening, capacity building and core competencies of public health systems is something we strongly support with the Australian Government, regional governments, World Health Organization and partners.
“In particular, this investment focuses on the role of discovery-orientated research of new diagnostics, effective treatments and preventive measures as well as implementation health research, which are essential components of the response to regional outbreaks of infectious diseases.”
Other commitments of the Initiative include:
Up to $75 million for Product Development Partnerships that address drug resistance in tuberculosis and malaria and innovations for vector control
$16 million for applied health research with a focus on health systems and policy research that contributes to health security
$20 million over four years to the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Program
A new partnership with the Therapeutic Goods Administration working in the region to make the approval processes for new drugs and diagnostics more efficient
A new Health Security Corps, which places Australian health professionals in the region.
Burnet Program Director, Health Security, Dr Ben Coghlan said the Initiative complements Burnet’s ambitious new 2020 strategic blueprint.
“The key to Burnet 2020 is a focus on partnerships, and we look forward to strengthening our existing partnerships and developing new partnerships within Australia and in the region through this Initiative,” Dr Coghlan said.
“Our current work on regional health security includes work in Papua New Guinea with the RID-TB Project and the Tropical Disease Regional Research Collaboration Initiative, a consortium with The Menzies School of Health Research, and our partnership in several Centres for Research Excellence including Hot North, APPRISE and ISER.”
Foreign Minister Bishop said it’s important to consider that Australia’s health security is closely linked to the health security of our Indo-Pacific neighbours.
“In an inter-connected world, diseases such as Ebola, MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and Zika Virus do not respect borders,” Ms Bishop said.
“A major epidemic could potentially disrupt tourism, trade, investment and people movement, setting back regional economic growth and development.”
Ms Bishop said investing in Australian expertise and bringing together the efforts of governments, universities, civil society and the private sector, would promote a stable and prosperous region.
Burnet’s Health Security program combines research and project activities across the disciplines of Life Sciences, Public Health and International Development. Find out more.
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Director and CEO; Co-Head Malaria Research Laboratory; Chair, Victorian Chapter of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI)