AITHM James Cook University

The Australian Government's development policy 'Australian aid: promoting prosperity, reducing poverty, enhancing stability' has a focus on reducing poverty and lifting living standards in countries in the Indo-Pacific region through promoting sustainable economic growth. Supporting partner governments to develop and maintain efficient health systems to deliver better health for their populations is a priority under the policy.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) Health for Development Strategy 2015 - 2020 guides investments in health through the Australian aid program to promote sustainable economic growth, poverty reduction, and regional security. Helping build country-level systems and services that are responsive to people's health needs, and strengthening regional preparedness and capacity to respond to emerging health threats are key strategic outcomes of the Strategy.

Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia sets out the Australian Government's policies and plans for the economic development of northern Australia over the next 20 years and beyond. Australia's position as a global leader in tropical health, and northern Australia's proximity to the fast growing tropical region, presents extraordinary opportunities for Australian tropical medicine. Australia's research institutions are contributing to the eradication of many of the diseases specific to the tropical region, including in Australia's own tropical zone.

The DFAT Tropical Disease Research Regional Collaboration Initiative (TDRRCI) is a component of the 'Our North, Our Future' measure and will support research collaboration between Australian, regional and international research institutions on tropical diseases which pose a trans-boundary threat in Australia's region of Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Highest priority disease treats are those that cross borders and potentially affect whole populations, including but not limited to malaria, tuberculosis, dengue, Zika virus, animal-to-human influenzas and neglected tropical diseases.

The objectives of the TDRRCI are to:

  • increase the capacity and expertise of research institutions in the region on tropical disease research through collaboration and information exchange;
  • foster tropical disease research with a health systems focus and impact including best practice and evidence on how new technologies and innovations should be implemented in low and middle income countries, with consideration of systemic factors such as leadership and governance, financing, planning, surveillance, workforce, cross-border regional approaches, and engaging the private sector; and
  • contribute to efforts to prevent and contain tropical diseases that constitute public health threats in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

The JCU-led activity 'Tropical partnerships to strengthen health systems responses to infectious diseases threats' was selected from a competitive process to implement the TDRRCI and is funded under DFAT's Delivering Better Health initiative. This work is funded from February 2017 and concluding April 2019.

The project was awarded to a consortium of universities, led by the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University, and also includes:

Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research

Australian National University

University of Western Australia

University of Sydney