Papua New Guinea's medical research capabilities will recieve a substantial rejuvenation of support under Australia's Health Security Initiative for the Indo-Pacific Region, as the Institute of Medical Research (PNGIMR) celebrates its landmark 50th anniversary. PNGIMR has been an important part of Papua New Guinea's health system for the last half century, and last week hosted a number of workshops to highlight the progresss made and the important work that continues at its headquarters in Goroka. Professor Willie Pomat was also announced as the new Director of PNGIMR, which Professor Brendan Crabb labelled "a huge moment" for IMR.
A huge moment in the 50-year history of the #PNGIMR ; a huge moment for the decades ahead for this institution and for the future health of Papua New Guineans. Congratulations Professor Pomat, richly deserved. @dfat @CentreHealthSec https://t.co/z8EIbPofiM
— Brendan Crabb (@CrabbBrendan) August 31, 2018
PNG High Commissioner Bruce Davis and Head of the Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security (CHS) Robin Daviestravelled to Goroka to mark the Institute's anniversary and announce new support for its work from the Australian aid program. The package includes the appointment of a strategic adviser to drive and coordinate the Institute’s strategic planning, long-term fund raising, administrative reform and information technology development. PNGIMR has identified the establishment of this position as a high priority. The adviser will also mentor permanent PNGIMR staff so they can continue this work beyond the life of the position. The creation of this position will allow senior technical staff focus on the delivery of high-quality research.
CHS has also reached an agreement with the PNGIMR Buttressing Coalition, a core group of Australian research partner organisations, under which they will provide annual financial contributions, with the Australian aid program providing $3 in matching contributions for every $1 from Australian partners in the first year. This new injection of funding is the first agreement of its kind in the Coalition's 40 year history, and was made possible in part by CHS' offer to match funding. The funds raised in this way will be used for capacity development, minor capital investments and limited consumables. It is hoped that up to AU$120,000 might be raised for IMR under this arrangement.
High Commissioner Davis highlighted that Australia’s investments were supporting Papua New Guinea to achieve the goals set out in the PNG National Health Plan 2011-2020. “Australia recognises that the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research is an incredibly important, highly renowned, component of PNG’s health system” he said.
PNGIMR currently recieves support under applied health systems research grants from Australia's Health Security Initiative. The Institute is a partner on the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine project led by Professor Emma McBryde to strengthen capacity in the region for policy research on infectious disease surveillance and response. Dr Moses Laman from PNGIMR is also leading a newly awarded research project in collaboration with Dr Leanne Robinson from the Burnet Institute. The project will evaluate and implement real-time surveillance for malaria and other vector-borne illnesses in PNG and will provide early warning of drug-resistance and insecticide resistant vectors. The project will also strengthen PNG’s outbreak response capability by providing decision support tools to frontline healthcare workers and policymakers.