Policy Updates

Each week, Donor Tracker's team of country-based experts bring you the most important policy and funding news across issue areas in the form of Policy Updates.

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Australia expands assistance to eliminate malaria in Asia-Pacific

April 25, 2024 | Australia, Global Health R&D, Global Health, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health | Share this update

On April 25, 2024, World Malaria Day, Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Penny Wong announced the new range of assistance to support communities and governments in the Southeast Asia-Pacific region to reduce malaria.

A new partnership with PATH is slated to receive AUD8 million (US$5 million). Australia’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and the Burnett Institute will work with PATH to develop new diagnostics for malaria.

In addition, Australia will provide AUD17 million (US$11 million) to continue its partnership with the Medicines for Malaria Venture. The funds will go to the development of new treatments and medicines for malaria suitable for children and for use in pregnancy.

Funding will also be provided to James Cook University in tropical North Queensland to assist Pacific countries to strengthen their control and surveillance of mosquito borne diseases including Zika, dengue and malaria.

Press release - Minister for Foreign Affairs

Australian university expands dengue reduction program

April 8, 2024 | Australia, Global Health, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health | Share this update

On April 8, 2024, it was announced that the World Mosquito Program by Monash University in Victoria, Australia, to defeat dengue fever was successfully extended to Kiribati, Fiji, and Vanuatu following successful trials in Jogjakarta, Indonesia and in Medellín, Colombia.

The World Mosquito Program was funded in part by the Australian government, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and other donors. It involves introducing the Wolbachia bacteria to a local mosquito population. The bacteria inhibit the transfer of dengue virus from infected humans to a new host and is believed to provide more resistance to the Zika and Chikungunya viruses. The bacteria will then spread generationally to infect most mosquitoes.

In Southeast Asia, dengue fever particularly affects children and young adults.

Australia also announced that it would provide AUD3 million (US$2 million) in assistance to combat the spread of dengue in Laos.

News article - Cosmos

Australia provides US$30 million for health systems

April 7, 2024 | Australia, Global Health | Share this update

On April 7, 2024, Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong announced AUD45.5 million (US30 million ) for the improvement of health workforce skills and improve disease response and surveillance.

In total, six initiatives were announced to improve health systems in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with a focus on disease surveillance and response, including AMR. The initiatives also included a focus on supporting individuals with disabilities.

Providers of the new programs included a range of universities and expert organizations in Australia and abroad. The funding for the initiative was part of the Australian Government’s Partnerships for a Healthy Region initiative.

Press release - Minister for Foreign Affairs

Full program released for 2024 World Health Summit Regional Meeting

March 25, 2024 | Australia, Global Health R&D, Global Health, Climate, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health | Share this update

On March 25, 2024, the forthcoming World Health Summit in Melbourne released its final detailed program.

The forum is slated to be hosted by Monash University and will focus on health issues across the Pacific and Southeast Asia. The summit will run from April 22 to 24, 2024, at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

A range of international and Australian speakers are listed for the three parallel sessions being held each day at the forum. Topics include drug policy, future proofing the health workforce and strengthening health care financing in the Asia-Pacific.

Speakers include Jed Carney, Australia’s Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, and Helen Clark, formerly Prime Minister of New Zealand and head of the UNDP.

Web Page - WHS Regional Meeting

Australia announces US$11 million in additional funding for TB treatment

March 24, 2024 | Australia, Global Health | Share this update

On March 24, 2024, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong announced Australia would provide AUD17 million (US$11 million) to the TB Alliance to improve access to tuberculosis treatments and develop more effective treatments, including new tuberculosis treatments for children.

The alliance has a new PeerLINC Hub in Manila, which has supported governments to introduce new treatments. Partner countries include Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

The new Australian funding would be provided through Partnerships for a Healthy Region program, which focuses on Pacific and South-East Asian countries to build equitable and resilient health systems.

Press release - Minister for Foreign Affairs

Australia, Laos enter strategic partnership, including funding for dengue fever research

March 8, 2024 | Australia, Global Health, Climate | Share this update

On March 8, 2024, Australia and Laos committed to work in partnership regarding human development, economics and trade, energy, environment and climate, and law enforcement.

Australia committed to provide AUD3 million (US$2 million) in the FY2023/34 to support research to eliminate dengue fever via the World Mosquito Program conducted by Monash University.

The university’s program of breeding mosquitoes with Wolbachia bacteria has been active in the ASEAN region as well as other countries. A rigorous evaluation in 2021 in Jogjakarta demonstrated the technique led to a reduction of 77% in dengue incidents, and an 86% reduction in hospitalizations due to dengue.

The World Mosquito Program focuses on mosquito borne diseases including yellow fever, Zika, chikungunya and dengue.

News article - The MandarinWeb Page - Monash University

Australia launches interim national CDC

March 1, 2024 | Australia, Global Health | Share this update

On March 1, 2024, Australia launched of an interim CDC within the Department of Health and Aged Care in Canberra as part of its ongoing process to establish a national CDC.

The center aims to take a One Health approach and respond to increased global health risks, particularly from zoonotic diseases and climate change-driven vulnerabilities. The CDC is being gradually phased in.

The center is domestically focused, but many stakeholders have advocated that it should assist international development efforts by Australia, particularly in the Western Pacific region.

The CDC is intended to plan and prepare for potential health emergencies, as well as coordinate with the Australian States and Territories. It is slated to monitor and analyze surveillance data from Australian and international sources and advise governments on health issues.

The center’s work will occur in various parts of Australia, but the permanent headquarters’ location has not been determined. An active debate concerns the possible location in the national capital Canberra or a growing health precinct near Melbourne University in Victoria.

Web Page - Australian Centre for Disease Control

Australia announces new funding for major health challenges in Papua New Guinea, global vector control

February 19, 2024 | Australia, Global Health | Share this update

On February 19, 2024, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong announced Australia would increase its support for health programs in Papua New Guinea to address malaria, HIV and antimicrobial resistance.

Australia is also slated to support health research and training through the Institute of Medical Research in Papua New Guinea.

No specific figure was given for the support. The funds are to be drawn from the AUD620 million (US$410 million) Partnerships for Healthy Region initiative.

Wong also announced Australia would provide further funding for the Innovative Vector Control Consortium, which aims to develop new products to prevent dengue and malaria globally.

Press release - Minister for Foreign Affairs

Australia provides US$23 million for bioengineered cornea manufacturing facility

February 6, 2024 | Australia, Global Health R&D, Global Health | Share this update

On February 6, 2024, Australian Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler announced AUD35 million (US$23 million) for the University of Sydney to establish a facility to manufacture, store, and ship bioengineered corneas across the world.

Butler announced that the next-generation technology aspires to make artificial corneas available to everybody.

There is a chronic shortage of corneas in low- and middle-income countries due to a lack of tissue banks, including many countries in Southeast Asia and Africa. Worldwide, only 1 donor cornea is currently available for every 70 patients seeking a transplant.

The initiative was announced as part of a research collaboration between five institutes. Funding for this initiative is to be provided by Australia’s Medical Research Future Fund.

Press release - Minister for Health and Aged CareNews article - Mirage

First sessions announced for 2024 World Health Summit Regional Meeting

January 17, 2024 | Australia, Gender Equality, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, Family Planning, Global Health, Nutrition | Share this update

On January 17, 2024, the first sessions for the upcoming WHS Regional meeting were announced, including sessions on climate change, First People’s health, accelerating net-zero healthcare, fighting cervical cancer, and preventing violence against women in the Pacific.

The Regional Meeting is slated to focus on shaping the future of health across the Pacific and Asia. The meeting will run from April 22-24, 2024, at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

In addition to senior health academics, the meeting will be addressed by Australian Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ged Kearney and former New Zealand Prime Minister and former UNDP Administrator Helen Clark.

World Health Summit Melbourne

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