Health institutions applaud $620M injection for strong and resilient health systems in the Pacific and Southeast Asia

Children smiling for camera

An alliance of Australia’s leading health and development institutions, including Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, has applauded the Australian Government’s $620 million boost for health systems in the Pacific and Southeast Asia, announced yesterday (Thursday 23 February 2023). 

The Health Expert Advisory Committee* said the Partnerships for a Healthy Region program respected the inextricable link between Australia and its neighbours and would unlock social and economic growth. 

The Committee also welcomed the focus on strengthening health systems, non-communicable diseases, sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender equity and First Nations engagement. 

The Committee members all have in-country experience and deep connections with local NGOs and health institutions. These will be leveraged to ensure this investment is responsive to local needs and delivers at the local level. 

In 2022, ACFID and The Fred Hollows Foundation commissioned two important pieces of research which provided the evidence informing the HEAC’s recommendations to the Australian Government:

  1. Health security in the Pacific: expert perspectives to guide health system strengthening.  
  2. Investing in our future: Building strong and resilient health systems in the Indo-Pacific Region.

Professor Andrew Steer, Infection and Immunity Theme Director at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, said, “We congratulate Minister Wong and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) on the announcement of the Partnerships for a Healthy Region initiative. The initiative recognises the need to work with our neighbours to strengthen health services, like routine childhood immunisations, to place children and adolescents at the centre of sustainable development.

“WHO and UNICEF data shows that global childhood vaccination coverage continued to decline in 2021, with 25 million infants missing out on lifesaving vaccines for measles and diphtheria. We believe that the Partnerships initiative will help to reverse this trend in our region, and we applaud DFAT for their leadership in this effort.”

Health Expert Advisory Committee members are from: 

  • Australia Council for International Development (ACFID)
  • The Fred Hollows Foundation
  • Australian Global Health Alliance
  • Burnet Institute
  • The George Institute for Global Health
  • Nossal Institute for Global Health
  • Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
  • Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
  • Interplast Australia & New Zealand