Capitalising on Australia’s unique strengths in health security

Applying Australia’s unique strengths in health security

Investments in this area will mobilise Australian public health professionals to undertake targeted capacity-building placements with governments and research institutions in the region, support applied health research including health systems and policy research, and expand public health training opportunities in Australia.

Health policy and systems research call for proposals

Health systems in the Indo-Pacific are confronting multiple and increasing global and local challenges, including infectious disease outbreaks, antimicrobial resistance, climate change, rapid population growth and urbanisation. Health systems have never needed to be more resilient.

Policy makers and practitioners need to have easy access to information about interventions that work and what is already known about what may be feasible, practical and culturally acceptable in a given context. We need better evidence on the contribution of health systems to strengthened health security if we are to understand and address the policy, political and organisational constraints to effective action. Australian research institutions, working with their counterparts in the region, are particularly well placed to respond to this challenge.

As a key early investment under the Health Security Initiative, the Centre for Health Security is making a specific call for health systems and policy research that will contribute to improved health security in the region, including through building regional research capacity. Up to $16 million will be allocated over three years to high-quality, collaborative, health systems and policy research with a particular focus on Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

This research call is being managed through a partnership between the Centre for Health Security and the National Health and Medical Research Council. For Grant Guidelines and further information please see the Business Notifcations page of the DFAT website.

Health security corps

Australia has a great depth of public health expertise to offer governments in our region and to feed into global mechanisms such as the WHO’s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network. There is considerable scope to capitalise more fully on this pool of expertise and to draw together several existing deployment pools and mechanisms.

As an early measure under the Health Security Initiative, the government has therefore announced the establishment of a health security corps to help strengthen regional preparedness to respond to emerging health threats. The health security corps will support professional placements in non-clinical roles in government agencies, NGOs, international organisations, research bodies and regional institutions.

The Centre for Health Security has already begun to support the placement of public health experts in the region in response to requests from partner governments and international organisations. Initial deployments are being made under the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program. Later placements will draw on a range of deployment mechanisms, including AVID.

Video: Health Security Placement - Stephanie Wheeler with the WHO Cambodia office

All health security corps placements will be developed in consultation with prospective host institutions based on capacity and need. Placements will be assessed with reference to their potential contribution to the prevention and containment of infectious disease threats. Placements might involve, for example, technical laboratory work including specimen testing, field epidemiology work, or public communication and community education.

Importantly, the heath security corps will also build people-to-people and institutional links that will facilitate ongoing sharing of experience and understanding of health security across the region.

Last Updated: 4 October 2017