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Health institutions applaud $620M boost for health systems in Pacific and Southeast Asia

2 min read

An alliance of Australia’s leading health and development institutions has applauded the Australian Government’s $620 million boost for health systems in the Pacific and Southeast Asia.

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

“Australia needs to help partners’ health systems reach the poorest people, not just focus on medical capacity in capital cities,” said ACFID CEO Marc Purcell.

The Committee which consists of leaders from many healthcare organisations and institutions welcomed the focus on strengthening health systems, non-communicable diseases, sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender equity and First Nations engagement.

“Eye health is impacted by both communicable diseases like trachoma and non-communicable diseases like cataracts and diabetes,” said The Fred Hollows Foundation CEO Ian Wishart.

“The Fred Hollows Foundation is therefore very pleased to see that this regional health partnership has the scope for both. The people of the region are looking for health security that is holistic, particularly after the damage the pandemic wreaked on their health systems.”

With all the Committee members having in-country experience and deep connections with local NGOs and health institutions, the plan is to leverage this to ensure this investment is responsive to local needs and delivers at the local level.

“This is a desperately needed and very welcome investment in the health of our neighbours who have been so impacted by the pandemic. But it is also an investment in our collective health; the pandemic laid bare just how interconnected we are,” said Brendan Crabb AC, Burnet Institute Director and CEO, and Chair of the Australian Global Health Alliance Professor.

In 2022, ACFID and The Fred Hollows Foundation commissioned two essential 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.

“We congratulate Minister Wong and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the announcement of the Partnerships for a Healthy Region initiative,” said Andrew Steer, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute Infection and Immunity Theme Director Professor.

Steer emphasised that this initiative recognises the need to work with Australia’s neighbours to strengthen health services.

“This package allows for everyone to step up and continue the life-changing and life-saving work that Australian NGOs are so highly respected for within the region,” said Cameron Glover, Interplast Australia & New Zealand CEO.

“We look forward to working with the Australian Government to build upon our last 40 years of health system strengthening, building for a better tomorrow.”

Related: Fred Hollows is working to end gender disparity in eye health 

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Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.


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