Federal Government health security initiative a shot-in-the-arm: AAMRI

Federal Government health security initiative a shot-in-the-arm: AAMRI

9th October, 2017

AAMRI President Professor Tony Cunningham AO said the Indo-Pacific Health Security Initiative was launched by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane on Sunday.

He said the program, which will invest $300 million over five years into securing the health and wellbeing of Australia’s Indo-Pacific neighbours, will target disease outbreaks with the potential to have a harmful and lasting economic impact. This will be the single biggest investment in health and medical research under the banner of Australian aid according to the Foreign Minister, the Hon Julie Bishop MP.

The scheme includes $75 million for Product Development Partnerships to address drug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria and to explore innovative ways to control vector-born disease, such as those carried by mosquitos or parasites.

“We welcome this announcement and new funding to strengthen local health systems throughout the Pacific region and to ensure we invest in research and partnerships that combat major disease outbreaks,” Professor Cunningham said.

“Not only is this fantastic news for our scientists who are passionate about research in these vital areas, we were delighted this important announcement took place at one of Australia’s leading medical research institutes – QIMR Berghofer in Brisbane.”

QIMR Berghofer director Professor Frank Gannon said he was thrilled to host the official launch, which he called a game-changer for health security throughout the region.

“QIMR Berghofer was chosen for the launch of the new Indo-Pacific Health Security Initiative because of our strong existing programs committed to improving health in the region across multiple disciplines, but particularly, infectious diseases,” he said.

“We were delighted to host Ms Bishop at our Institute, and give her a tour of one of our mosquito laboratories where scientists are already working on many of the issues relevant to safeguarding the health of communities throughout the Indo-Pacific region.”

The initiative will be led by the new Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

Professor Cunningham said applicants were also encouraged to apply for a share in $16 million for applied health research to contribute to health security in the region through health systems and policy research.

The announcement included $20 million over four years for the World Health Organisation’s Health Emergencies Program; a new partnership with the Therapeutic Goods Administration to make approval processes for new drugs and diagnostics more efficient; and a new Health Security Corps, made up of Australian health professionals deployed in the region.

Photograph courtesy of DFAT/Aaron Tait Photography

Media Contact: Peter Thomas, 0411 600 992, peter.thomas@aamri.org.au