A coalition of doctors and health experts from the Global Health Alliance are warning new foreign donation laws could compromise crucial international medical research partnerships that deliver positive health outcomes and save lives in developing countries.
Global Health Alliance Members are calling on all Federal MPs to put in place protections to ensure the legislation arising from the Inquiry into the Conduct of the 2016 Federal Election: Foreign Donations does not inhibit the advancement of medicine.
Associate Professor Helen Evans, AO, an Alliance Board Member and a former Deputy CEO at the Global Fund to Fight AIDs, TB and Malaria and GAVI, The Vaccine Alliance, expressed grave concern over the impact new donation laws could have on current funding from organisations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, foreign governments and corporate donors.
“Medical research institutes and development organisations are often defined as charities which means they could potentially get caught up in this proposed legislation,” said Professor Helen Evans.
Evans, who is a board member of the Burnet Institute, is particularly concerned about one of its flagship programs, The Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Program in Papua New Guinea (PNG), which receives close to $1 million in corporate funding in PNG.
“Members of Parliament need to recognise we are dealing with organisations who literally save lives. PNG has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world – this collaborative research program, combined with service delivery, is generating evidence that can be used immediately to improve services and save lives,” said Professor Helen Evans.
A recent survey undertaken by the Global Health Alliance in Melbourne showed that 24 organisations receive grants and philanthropic income from organisations based outside of Australia, totalling just under $450 million.
“This foreign income has played a key role in funding research which has resulted in life-saving medical advancements here in Australia,” said Professor Evans.
“The Cure for HIV research program in Melbourne receives significant funding from US-based organisations like amFAR (Foundation for AIDS research).”
The Global Health Alliance will be writing to all Federal MPs over the coming weeks, offering advice on how to amend the legislation to avoid any negative, unintended consequences of the proposed legislation.
Misha Coleman, Executive Director of Global Health Alliance Melbourne, 0428 399 739