RESULTS welcomes the weekend announcement by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, of a $300 million five year aid investment to help prevent and contain disease outbreaks that have the potential to cause large scale social and economic impacts on a national, regional or global scale.
Hailed by the Minister as the single largest investment in health and medical research under the Australian aid program, the Indo Pacific Health Security Initiative will be coordinated by the Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security, a new unit within DFAT. Initial investments include $75 million in grant funding for Product Development Partnerships (PDPs), $20 million for WHO’s health emergencies programs, and a new Health Security Corps to encourage Australian health professionals to share expert knowledge with other health professionals in the region.
Ms Maree Nutt, CEO RESULTS Australia says “I was delighted to represent RESULTS at the announcement of these initiatives in Brisbane on the weekend. Funding that expands research to address tuberculosis (TB) is much needed given that the Asia Pacific region holds 60 per cent of the global burden of this leading infectious killer.”
Launched with the Indo-Pacific Health Security Initiative, DFAT established two new grant funds: the Product Development Partnerships Competitive Grants Fund and the Stronger Systems for Health Security initiative.
The Product Development Partnerships Competitive Grants Fund seeks proposals for initiatives that will halt the spread of drug-resistant strains of TB and malaria in the Indo-Pacific region with the expectation that up to four initiatives will be funded.
“We know from TB survivors that the side-effects from current TB drugs can be devastating, especially for those with the drug resistant TB. Side effects include things such as blindness, hearing loss, nausea and joint pain. The current treatment is also long and arduous, including 2 years of over 14,000 pills and months of painful injections. This makes it difficult for someone with TB to complete their treatment and is a major driver of the spread of TB. New treatments and diagnostic tools are desperately needed and the funding of PDPs is an important step in developing better alternatives,” says Ms Nutt.
“Furthermore, research and development for a new TB vaccine would have the biggest impact on the epidemic, and remains the cornerstone to reaching global elimination and the Sustainable Development Goals relating to health and ending epidemics” concludes Ms Nutt.
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