The Australian Government is continuing to step up its commitment with the Pacific, pledging an additional $19 million to boost health care across the region.
The Government has reinforced its commitment to improving the health of Pacific populations at the Pacific Health Ministers Meeting in French Polynesia this week.
Minister Hunt is representing Australia in Papeete, the first time Australia has attended the meeting as a full member, building on past attendance as an observer.
Funding for a range of initiatives including tuberculosis (TB), infection control, childhood obesity and medical research and medicines testing will benefit the people of the Pacific now and into the future.
The Government will invest $13 million in a significant drive to control and eliminate tuberculosis in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
Of the $13 million, $5 million will be for intensive TB detection and treatment, while $8 million will be for important research into anti-microbial resistance and drug-resistant TB.
We will help build a skilled workforce to detect the disease, improve the quality of TB surveillance, make sure people stick to their treatment and work with partner governments in the region to develop and implement evidence-based TB elimination strategies.
In addition, the Government will provide up to $3 million to place an infection, prevention and control adviser in both Tuvalu and Kiribati, a Chief Pathologist in Samoa, and place two advisers in Fiji to support infection control across the Pacific region.
We are also providing an extra $1 million to expand efforts to reduce childhood obesity in the Pacific.
This funding, through The Pacific Community’s Public Health Division, will support Pacific Ending Childhood Obesity (ECHO) regional priorities, such as physical activity campaigns and restricting the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children.
This investment complements Australia’s annual funding contributions to the Pacific Community’s Public Health Division, which provides advice and support to Pacific countries on clinical services, disease prevention and control, and stronger regional health governance and policy.
This funding also reflects Australia’s efforts to progress the commitment of Pacific leaders to address childhood obesity, made at last year’s Pacific Island Forum.
The Australian Government will also provide the McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer with $1.065 million over three years to develop tobacco control laws and policy in the Pacific.
The McCabe Centre provides legal expertise and support to governments as they develop and implement tobacco control laws, and defend them against legal challenges from the global tobacco industry.
This funding will enable the McCabe Centre to build on its activities, including holding three annual Pacific regional workshops, so countries can develop and enforce effective legislation and regulations.
Of the $19 million announced today, $1 million has already been allocated over four years to provide Pacific island countries with access to Australia’s pharmaceutical quality assurance systems.
Twelve Pacific island countries have signed onto the Pacific Medicines Testing Program, administered by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
The TGA is working with the World Health Organization to share the results across participating countries, assisting in raising awareness of possible poor quality medicines.
Through these important initiatives, the Australian Government is building on its commitment to step up engagement with the Pacific and improve the health of populations across the region.