Invest Now or Pay Later

Gina Olivieri | The Sunday Age |7 August 2016

The discovery of Zika virus in Florida should be a wake-up call to us all (News, 31/7). Mosquitoes and airborne diseases have no regard for national borders. Epidemics like HIV, tuberculosis and malaria may not be devastating Australia, but we ignore them at our peril. TB, in particular, is increasingly drug-resistant in our nearest neighbour, Papua New Guinea, and malaria is also showing resistance to treatment across our region. Troubling, yes, but certainly not insurmountable, and great progress has been made since 2000 with concentrated global investment in prevention, diagnostics and treatment. We are at a tipping point, and these diseases can be ended as epidemics within the next 15 years. What a great legacy to leave our grandkids.

Australia will have an opportunity to play a key role by committing $300 million to a global total of $13 billion to be pledged at next month’s conference in Montreal to replenish the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. We can invest now or pay a much heftier price later.