Burnet support for investment boost in region’s health

COVID-19 vaccination rollout in Western Province, Papua New Guinea (Image courtesy Tess Keam)

Australia needs to invest in fairer access to healthcare for people in the Indo-Pacific region according to a campaign launched today by a group of the nation’s leading health, development and research institutions including Burnet Institute.

Led by the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) and The Fred Hollows Foundation as members of the Health Expert Advisory Committee, the campaign calls for increased investment in stronger, more resilient health systems in the Indo-Pacific region.

In an Open Letter published in The Australian newspaper, the Committee is urging all political parties to build on existing commitments to help our neighbours by increasing investment in:

  • Fully vaccinating the world’s population for COVID-19 and tackling vaccine hesitancy
  • Delivering quality health services that reach people in need
  • Training a new generation of frontline health workers to get vaccines and treatment to people in local communities
  • Monitoring pandemic outbreaks and responding to infectious diseases; and
  • Supporting governments in the region to plan, budget and manage healthcare services

ACFID CEO Marc Purcell said a key take-out was the importance of supporting self-determination for our neighbours regarding their health security.

“People have the right to tailored healthcare that meets their needs, that doesn’t cost them an arm and a leg or have them jumping through multiple hoops to access,” Mr Purcell said.

“This is about building a healthier world, and we know it starts by recognising the strong cultural, economic and trade ties we have to our closest neighbours in the Indo-Pacific.”

The recommendations set out in the campaign are built from well-researched evidence published in three reports:

The Fred Hollows Foundation’s CEO Ian Wishart said the campaign was an evidence-based collaborative effort, drawing on the experiences of NGOs and their in-country programs and relationships.

“We recognise that our call for greater investment in health and development must be based on evidence,” Mr Wishart said.

“The Health Expert Advisory Committee has found that improving equity strengthens health systems, making them more resilient to severe events like pandemics.

“Australia’s relationship with the Indo-Pacific is inextricable, and without resilient health systems in the whole region, our security and prosperity are at stake. We are, quite literally, in this together.”

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