Health Security Corps

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 (GOARN). There is considerable scope to capitalise on this pool of expertise and to draw together several existing deployment pools and mechanisms.

Under the Health Security Initiative, the Australian Government has established the Health Security Corps.

The health security corps will support professional placements in non-clinical roles in government agencies, NGOs, international organisations, research bodies and regional institutions.

Health Security Corps

As an early measure under the Health Security Initiative, the government announced the establishment of a health security corps to help strengthen regional preparedness to respond to emerging health threats. Through DFAT’s Australian Volunteers Program, the health security corps is supporting professional placements in non-clinical roles with government agencies, international organisations, research organisations and laboratories. Health security volunteer placements are intended to contribute to capacity building in-country for prevention and containment of infectious disease threats. For example, placements might involve technical laboratory work, field epidemiology or public communication and community education. In addition to the capacity building objectives of the volunteer placements, the health security corps builds people-to-people and institutional links that will ideally facilitate ongoing sharing of experience and understanding of health security across the region.

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 (GOARN). A number of Australian organisations deploy public health professionals into the field as part of Australia’s contribution to disease outbreak responses in other countries in addition to longer term capacity building. There is considerable scope for DFAT to explore ways in which the government can contribute to supporting Australia’s pool of deployable public health expertise in Australia including skills-building and practical activities to overcome barriers to deployment where they exist.

A new investment in reciprocal placement of future Indo-Pacific health security leaders in relevant institutions in Australia and ASEAN countries, for field epidemiology training, was announced by the Prime Minister at the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit.

The Centre for Health Security will undertake a formal design process commencing in April 2018 to determine how best to contribute to developing the health security workforce in the Indo-Pacific region—as well as in Australia to enable Australia’s contribution abroad.

 

Stephanie Wheeler

Stephanie is delighted to be one of Australia’s first members of the Health Security Corps under the Australian Government’s Health Security Initiative. Strengthening health systems is an important part of Australia’s development assistance program and this initiative builds on this work, focusing attention on health security risks and responses in the Indo–Pacific region—a long recognised hot spot of emerging pandemic threats and drug resistance.

Strong and resilient regional health systems support productive societies and help reduce the risk to Australians of infectious diseases.

Stephanie works with her WHO colleagues and counterparts in the Cambodian Ministry of Health to promote health security in Cambodia. She supports Cambodia’s public health emergency preparedness and response, including detecting events, assessing the public health impact of these events and how to effectively communicate health messages to partners and the wider community.