Submission to Australian Government’s Foreign Policy White Paper
A detailed submission was lodged with the Australian Government in early June 2017, for their White Paper released on 10th November 2017. Read the full submission from GLHAM which outlines how investing in global health is in Australia’s national interests.
Establishment of formal relationships with the Washington, Georgia and North Carolina Global Health Alliances
Executive Director Misha Coleman has been fortunate to develop close working relationships with the staff of our three sister global health alliances in North America. There is significant potential for collaboration between the Alliances, and between our respective membership bases.
Australia India Investment Forum: Connecting Digital Technologies with the Health and Pharma Sectors Opportunities for India Engagement
- The Alliance was invited by the Australia-India Institute to co-chair and co-host this Forum on 24 July, 2017. Supported by the Federal Department of Education and Training and PWC, senior representatives from government, universities, the private and not-for-profit sectors came together at the Australia-India Institute to:
- Engage with the Executive Director South Asia, Victoria Government Business Office, Bangalore, on the Victorian Government perspective, including its India Strategy, government mandate, and the recent visit to India by the Victoria Health Minister;
- Discuss and identify the status quo and how challenges or barriers can be overcome;
- Discuss and identify platforms for further development/investment opportunities and engagement (including stakeholders and timelines); and
- Discuss and identify opportunities for trade development.
Baseline Mapping and Economic Impact Study of the International Health Sector
In July 2017, the Alliance began work on the Baseline Mapping and Economic Impact Study of the International Health Sector. This included a robust analysis of the economic impacts of the international health (global health) activities taking place within the State of Victoria, in order to form the baseline for Victoria’s International Health Strategy, 2016-2020.
Concurrently, the Alliance Foundation Committee had determined that undertaking a mapping study of our membership base would be the primary activity of the Alliance in 2017. Therefore, the Alliance prepared an unsolicited bid to the DHHS for this piece of work.
This work was initiated a Design Studio hosted by the Fred Hollows Foundation and co-facilitated by the Global Ideas Forum. Several Alliance members were involved and expertise was also brought in from the UoM Dept of Geomatics and the DHHS.
- The study will comprise of two parallel and interconnected pieces of work that will map and quantify the global health sector in Melbourne:
The Baseline International Health Economic Impact Study for Victoria; and
- Mapping the capacity and showcasing the expertise of the Alliance’s member organisations.
GLHAM members will be showcased and highlighted in a parallel but closely related exercise, which will provide case studies and ‘colour’ to the findings and the final product. Collecting more detailed data on the organisational capacity of Alliance members will also assist with putting together capability statements for future joint bids between members.
Secretariat support for the Australian-based WHO Collaborating Centres
There are currently 46 WHO Collaborating Centres in Australia, with half of these being Melbourne-based. The Alliance has been approached to provide a form of secretariat to enable more cross-pollination between the centres. This will be initiated concurrently with the establishment of the WHO collaborating centre for Health Literacy, to be launched by: the Chair of the Alliance, the Hon. John Brumby; Vice-Chancellor of Deakin University, Prof Jane den Hollander; and Dr Vivian Lin from the WHO Regional Office (WPRO).
Roundtable on global health and development
In March 2016, GLHAM organized a roundtable bringing together key thought leaders from biomedical research, international development, academia, and the private and public sectors working in global health and development. The purpose was to discuss the proposed concept and value proposition for the establishment of a Melbourne-based Alliance to strategically connect, expand and strengthen work in the global health space.
Important considerations for the formation of the Alliance highlighted by participants were:
- Global health and development is moving away from a ‘recipient/donor’ dynamic into a partnership model of engagement with countries and regions. In this globally connected world, national governments on their own cannot achieve many of the changes needed nor do they have the resources to do this. This has lead to a much greater focus on collaboration not just across disciplines but also between the public and the private sectors to draw on the best of each. Therefore, ‘collaborative partnerships’ should set the tone of relationships among Alliance members during its establishment phase
- The Alliance should start small and set achievable outcomes that are measurable
- An early task would be to work with stakeholders to clearly map priorities
- The Alliance should be a platform that fosters information exchange, connection, accessibility, networking and responsiveness within the sector
- It should enable greater visibility (including advocacy), access to funding, resources, innovation and talent for global health
- The Alliance should consider adopting a regional focus, building on the strengths of the Melbourne global health sector with respect to working in the Asia-Pacific region
- Melbourne to be seen as the ‘hub’ of global health expertise in the southern hemisphere, similar to how London, Washington D.C., Seattle and New York are oftentimes perceived and deferred to by global health institutions such as the World Health Organization or The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
Out of the Shadows: The case for investing in women’s mental health
In December 2016, GLHAM co-hosted its first in an ongoing series of public symposiums on global health issues that will produce a policy document with input from across the sector. The first of these symposiums, “Out of the Shadows: The case for investing in women’s mental health,” co-hosted with the Jean Hailes Research Unit at Monash University, brought together Professor Arthur Kleinman, a world expert on women’s mental health, with Victorian-based experts from the public and private sectors, to articulate best practice strategies on keeping women’s—and their children’s—health and wellbeing at the heart of every nation’s sustainable development agenda
Delivering Moxidectin to treat river blindness in African contexts
GLHAM facilitated a collaboration between Medicines Development for Global Health(MDGH) – a Melbourne-based biotechnology company and social enterprise – and The Fred Hollows Foundation, for the purpose of implementing delivery of Moxidectin in African contexts, with a focus on River Blindness.
River blindness is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, with pockets of infection in the Arabian Peninsula and in some parts of South America as well. The WHO estimates that over 100 million Africans are at risk of infection and some 37 million people are infected globally. This parasitic disease is caused by the worm Onchocerca volvulus, which is transmitted from person to person through the bite of black flies of the genus Simulium. Each adult female worm, which can live for up to 15 years in the human body, produces millions of microscopic offspring (microfilaria) that migrate through the skin, eyes, and lymph nodes. The microfilariae are the main cause of the symptoms, which include severe skin inflammation and intense itching, enlarged lymph nodes and, in some patients, visual impairment that can ultimately lead to blindness. Control and elimination of this disease currently relies on mass annual or biannual drug administration with ivermectin (through donations to the Mectizan Donation Program by Merck, known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada).
Addressing scabies, the neglected of the neglected diseases
In June 2016, Alliance member Medicines Development for Global Health (MDGH) – a Melbourne-based biotechnology company and social enterprise – announced the receipt of AU$3 million to support the clinical development of moxidectin for scabies treatment and elimination. This represents the largest single investment to address the scourge of scabies, a disease that disproportionately affects the most disadvantaged people in the world, including Australian Indigenous communities.
GLHAM enabled a collaboration with the Lowitja Institute – Australia’s national institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research – to implement its Moxidectin treatment program to target scabies throughout Indigenous communities in Australia. The Moxidectin program is funded by the Gates Foundation-backed Global Health Investment Fund and Medicines Development for Global Health (MDGH) has a license for the human use of moxidectin, second generation macrocyclic lactone, from the WHO.
Scabies is a highly contagious, debilitating mite infestation of the skin affecting between 120-300 million people worldwide and has been recognized as a pandemic neglected tropical disease by the World Health Organization. With the funding, MDGHwill undertake a Phase II study to establish the optimal dose of moxidectin in scabies infection. Pre-clinical proof of concept has been achieved, and MDGH already has substantial toxicology, manufacturing and clinical safety data for moxidectin.
“This innovative Australian company plans to conduct Australia-centred development of moxidectin for scabies, a pandemic disease but one which is endemic in Australian Indigenous communities and the South Pacific region. The effort has enormous potential global impact and is close to market” said Curt LaBelle of the GHIF.
“This project is an advance of global significance, joining Australian research and translational expertise with government in a unique opportunity to rapidly deliver the first new treatment for scabies in decades. We are very grateful to Austrade and GHIF for helping us to address this important issue” said Mark Sullivan of MDGH.
Want to Join The Alliance?
Many entities from a diverse range of sectors are currently on board, and your organisation is welcome to join too, to add your expertise and to benefit from our services. Interested? Find out more.