His Excellency enjoyed a tour of the world class research facilities at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI). He was particularly interested in the groundbreaking work the team are doing into rotavirus vaccines.
Researchers from the Melbourne Children’s Campus have enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Indonesia. MCRI's Professor Ruth Bishop led a team that discovered rotavirus in 1973, which is the most common cause of severe diarrhoea among infants and young children and results in the death of over half a million children under five years of age worldwide each year, mainly in developing countries.
At the time, Ruth’s discovery led to the establishment of a close bond with Indonesia’s Professor Yati Soenarto. This relationship has continued between research groups in Australia and Indonesia. The most recent union has seen MCRI and The University of Gadja Mada in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, collaborate on the development of a new rotavirus vaccine to protect and improve the lives of children.
Professor Julie Bines, the study’s lead researcher from MCRI; a professor at the University of Melbourne; and a prominent gastroenterologist at the Royal Children’s Hospital said, “It has been an honour and privilege to have worked closely over the past 40 years with Professor Yati Soenarto and her highly skilled and committed team from the Pediatric Research Office at Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM). We have shared a common goal to develop a vaccine to protect babies from severe rotavirus gastroenteritis from birth. If successful this will have a major impact on the health of babies in Indonesia and globally.”
The long and successful united efforts of Australian and Indonesian researchers have nurtured crucial developments which could potentially save thousands of lives.
Children in Indonesia continue to face the dangers of rotavirus gastroenteritis. It is estimated to cause 10,000 child deaths, over 200,000 hospitalisations and almost 600,000 clinic presentations in children under five in Indonesia every year.
The Ambassador expressed his appreciation and said “The cooperation between MCRI and the UGM has a strategic meaning, not only between the two institutions but also in a broader level between the two countries. Hopefully, many children will benefit from the development of this vaccine not only in Indonesia and Australia but also globally.”
It is hoped the further developments by MCRI and our Indonesian partners could help significantly minimise the impact of rotavirus gastroenteritis worldwide.