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Australia Announces Funding to Battle Emerging Health Threats in the Indo-Pacific Region

Flickr - DFID (UK Aid)

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop announced over the weekend the launch of an Indo-Pacific Health Security Initiative, designed to combat emerging and existing health threats in Australia and the country’s region.

Our globe is increasingly interconnected, making diseases such as Ebola, MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and the Zika virus a threat everywhere as long as they exist somewhere. These health threats know no boundaries and do not recognise borders, Bishop said in her announcement of the program.

“A major epidemic could potentially disrupt tourism, trade, investment and people movement, setting back regional economic growth and development," Bishop said in her media release.

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The plan will see $300 million spent over five years in protecting Australia and its neighbours from the outbreak and spread of disease. This will be invested in researching new ideas, planning for emerging health epidemics, and developing new innovations and better health systems.

The initiative aims to connect with governments, universities, civil society and the private sector to ensure a secure and prosperous region.

Under the plan $75 million will be available for Product Development Partnerships that address drug resistance in tuberculosis (TB) and malaria.

This is critical as more than half of the global TB cases (56%) occur in our region. According to The Global Fund, malaria affects 1.5 billion people in South East Asia and the Western Pacific. The countries most at risk include India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Laos and Cambodia.

Global Citizen welcomes this announcement and the investment in health security in the Indo-Pacific region as healthy and safe communities are critical in ending poverty.

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