Australia launches regional initiative to fight infectious disease

The health security initiative will work to combat infectious diseases such as Ebola, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Zika virus Photo: PAHO.

The Australian government has launched an initiative to combat the challenges of existing and emerging infectious diseases for Australia, Solomon Islands and other countries in the region.

According to the Australian High Commission, a regional investment of $300 million AUD over five years through the Indo-Pacific Health Security Initiative will support efforts to prevent and contain disease outbreaks that have the potential to cause large-scale economic impacts.

The health security of Australia and Solomon Islands is linked to the health security of the countries’ Indo-Pacific neighbors as┬ádiseases including Ebola, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Zika virus do not respect borders.

A major epidemic could potentially disrupt tourism, trade, investment and the movement of people, which would set back regional economic growth and development.

Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands Roderick Brazier said both Australia and Solomon Islands will benefit from improved capabilities to prevent, protect and respond to epidemics in human and animal populations in the region.

Mr Brazier said an Australian volunteer with the World Health Organisation is working closely with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services to ensure Solomon Islands can handle health crises as they occur.

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