The Centre for Health Security is working with the Government of Fiji and partner organisations to strengthen capacities to prepare and respond to health security threats, including COVID-19.
The Centre for Health Security conducted a Scoping Mission to the Pacific in 2018, which provided recommendations to inform priorities and propose areas for investment. In March 2019, DFAT opened a call for proposals for activities through the Pacific Infectious Disease Prevention (PIDP) and ASEAN-Pacific Infectious Disease Detection and Response (APIDDaR) programs and in 2020, partners will commence activities to prepare and respond to major health security threats, including COVID-19. To respond directly to COVID-19, Australia provided a package of support to Fiji in 2020 which includes support for case management and isolation, personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers and technical advisers. Australia also provided support to the World Health Organization’s regional office in Suva, including funds to prepare, respond and contain COVID-19 through technical advice to Pacific Island Countries and shipments of medical supplies.
The following regional programs have been developed to build health security capacity in Fiji:
- Building Capacity for Evidence-Based Sustainable Vector Surveillance and Control in the Pacific, implemented by James Cook University.
- Enhancing the Management of Antimicrobial Resistance (EMAR), a joint DFAT-ACIAR One Health Project to support Fiji’s health and agriculture authorities implement the National Antimicrobial Resistance Action Plan.
- Health systems research in the Tropical Partnerships to Enhance Surveillance and Response to Infectious Diseases project, to study patterns of infectious disease spread and strengthen health systems responses to communicable disease. This research is led by James Cook University.
- Health systems research through the Watershed Interventions for Systems Health (WISH) project, to develop and test real-time mobile tools to optimise water, sanitation and catchment management and training on outbreak response. This research is being led by the University of Sydney, and partners with Fiji National University and the Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services.
- Mitigating the threat of Antimicrobial Resistance in Pacific Island Countries, implemented by the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity.
- Research trials on the introduction of the Wolbachia bacteria to mosquitoes to reduce risks from dengue and other arboviruses, through the World Mosquito Program (WMP).
- Funding for two specialist technical advisers to enhance the Pacific Community (SPC) Public Health Division’s support to Pacific Island countries in infection prevention and control and epidemiology training. The SPC will also be supported through a grant to deliver Pacific Evidence Informed Policies and programs (Pac-EVIPP) program.
- Support for the online health data aggregation, analysis and visualisation platform, Tupaia. The tool combines data from multiple sources to improve the availability of medicines, map disease outbreaks, respond to disasters and strengthen service provision in the Indo-Pacific.
- Support to expand immunisation in the Pacific through the Australian Regional Immunisation Alliance, led by the National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance (NCIRS).
- Training in surveillance and outbreak investigation for veterinarians and the para-veterinary workforce, delivered by the University of Sydney and Charles Sturt University.
- Volunteer deployments with partner organisations in Fiji through the Health Security Corps, including roles at Fiji’s Centre for Communicable Disease Control and the World Health Organization.