Browsing articles in "Australia"
31 January 2017
Shawn Clackett

Helen Evans Appointment as an Officer in the Order of Australia

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Ms Helen Evans has been appointed as an Officer (AO) in the General Division of the Order of Australia on Australia Day 2017 for distinguished service to global health as an advocate for the improved treatment of infectious diseases in underprivileged populations, particularly for women and children.

Service includes: Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), 2009-2014 and Interim Chief Executive Officer, 2011. Deputy Executive Director, The Global Fight to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, 2005-2009. First Assistant Secretary, Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Commonwealth Department of Health, 1997-2005. Assistant Secretary, Budget Information and Evaluation Branch, Portfolio Strategies Group, Commonwealth Department of Health and Family Services. 1996-1997. Assistant Secretary, AIDS/Communicable Diseases Branch, Commonwealth Department of Human Services and Health, 1993-1996. Professional memberships include: Board Member, Burnett Institute, since 2015. Board Member, Fred Hollows Foundation, since 2015. Advisory Council Member, Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, since 2014. Honorary Associate Professor, The Nossal Institute for Public Health

Pacific Friends’ Executive Director, Bill Bowtell AO, said “Helen has made an outstanding contribution to international health and development both in Australia and then in her successive roles at Gavi Alliance and with the Global Fund. I especially recall and congratulate Helen on her great contribution in the early days of HIV/AIDS in Australia, when her unwavering commitment to sane and sensible health policy-making were first honed and displayed.”

The Development Policy Centre at the Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, wrote a piece on Helen’s story, written by Robin Davies. Read it here.

Congratulations Helen!

20 April 2016
Shawn Clackett

What’s the Buzz? Dame Quentin Bryce Launches International Malaria Congress in Brisbane

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BRISBANE – On Friday 15 April, The Honorable Dame Quentin Bryce AD, CVO, Australia’s 25th Governor-General, officially launched the International Congress for Tropical Medicine and Malaria 2016.

The launch took place at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art. Hosted by Professor Cheryl Jones, President of the Australian Society for Infectious Diseases (ASID) and Professor David Emery, President of the Australian Society for Parasitology along with Associate Professor Helen Evans, from the Advisory Council of Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Ms Michelle Aldridge recounted her personal experience with malaria, which she contracted while volunteering in the Solomon Islands in 2012.

Expert panel moderated by Dr Norman Swan, Host, ABC RN Health Report consisted of Professor Maxine Whittaker (James Cook University), Professor James McCarthy (QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute), Associate Professor (Hon) Helen Evans (Pacific Friends of the Global Fund), Rev Tim Costello (World Vision Australia), Dr Ben Rolfe (Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance, APLMA) and Professor Sharon Lewin (the Doherty Institute) discussed the importance and significance of the congress, the breakthroughs in malaria, health security within Australia and the need to continue funding the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The number of deaths caused by malaria declined 48 percent between 2000 and 2014. The number of lives saved by malaria treatment and prevention has grown steadily each year. Children under the age of five are the most vulnerable to malaria, because their immune systems are still developing effective resistance to the disease. Pregnant women are also vulnerable, because their immune systems are weakened during pregnancy. Protecting young children and pregnant women is paramount to any disease strategy.

The innovation of a long-lasting insecticidal mosquito net, at a relatively low cost, has greatly expanded protection for children and families. With more than 548 million mosquito nets distributed, people at risk for malaria who gained access to mosquito nets grew from 7 percent in 2005 to 36 percent in 2010 and 56 percent in 2014 in countries where the Global Fund invests.

 

22 February 2016
Shawn Clackett

DFAT: Mr Peter Varghese at the 2016 Australasian Aid Conference

10 February 2016

Peter-Varghese by India Down-Under

Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr Peter N Varghese AO

Prior to the integration of Ausaid and DFAT in November 2014, I had been on the periphery of aid policy issues for some 35 years.

Like many on the periphery, I had strong views.

I was a sceptic about the historical record of development assistance.

Indeed I had some sympathy for the view that aid was, for the most part, an area of policy failure paved with the best of intentions.

These days I do not have the luxury of armchair pontification.

The more I have been involved in aid policy as head of the Department responsible for its delivery, the more nuance has crept into my views.

The balance sheet today looks less stark.

The policy challenges are genuinely complex.

It is still my view that the most important ingredients of economic success for poor countries are good policies and good leadership.

No aid program can compensate for their absence.

But well thought through aid programs certainly can contribute to their presence.

Today I want to focus on three things.

First, I want to address three conceptual issues which are central to our aid program.

I want to address the link between private sector led economic growth and poverty reduction.

I want to explore the links between security and development.

And I want to say something about the anatomy of that difficult task of state-building.

Second, I want to talk about how we are addressing these concepts in the very different contexts of Asia, the Pacific and globally.

Finally, I want to say something about innovation and why we want it to have a more prominent place in our aid policy thinking.

Economic growth, the nature of that growth and poverty reduction

Let me start by exploring the links between private sector-led economic growth and poverty alleviation.

This is important because too often the debate about growth and poverty reduction turns into an either/or choice between poverty and growth.

This is a false dichotomy.

Generating growth in developing countries is always a balancing act between supporting overall economic development and supporting the poor to participate in that development.

That’s why in Australia’s aid program there continues to be considerable investment in human and social development, in social protection, in women’s empowerment and in disability inclusive development.

The empirical evidence on the centrality of economic development as a driver for poverty reduction is clear.

China is the obvious example.

More comprehensively, a 2013 World Bank analysis of growth and income changes across 118 countries over four decades shows that incomes of the bottom two quintiles in the population grew at about the same rate as the average annual incomes.

The report found that economic growth lifts people out of poverty and leads to shared prosperity on average.

It also helps to explain how the rapid growth in the developing world in recent decades has led to such dramatic poverty reduction.

What is also becoming clearer is that poverty in a country acts as a handbrake on growth.

In an American Economic Review article from a few years ago, Georgetown University Professor of Economics Martin Ravallion, found that poorer countries experience lower rates of economic growth.

In other words: poor countries grow slower.

Part of the solution comes with an emerging middle class.

A larger middle class makes growth more poverty-reducing – the handicaps faced by poor countries in their efforts to become less poor are very difficult to overcome.

Part of the population is caught in a poverty trap and doesn’t have the basic capabilities to respond to the opportunities that economic growth presents.

Finally, there is growing acceptance that countries with less inequality experience faster and more durable growth.

There is a clear consensus that sustainable job growth can only be delivered by a larger private sector.

There is also an emerging consensus on the importance of focusing on women’s empowerment and supporting women’s engagement in the economy and society.

It generates more growth — and growth that is more poverty reducing and more sustainable.

Recent McKinsey analysis suggests that if every country were to advance gender equality as well as its best performing neighbour, global GDP would increase by around $12 trillion or 11 percent over the next decade.

Indeed, the very first line of the McKinsey report sets out exactly what’s at stake:

‘Gender inequality is not only a pressing moral and social issue but also a critical economic challenge.  If women – who account for half the world’s population – do not achieve their full economic potential, the global economy will suffer.’

Importantly, supporting economic development involves much more than development assistance alone.

The Howard Government decision in 2003 to remove tariffs and quotas from imports from Least Developed Countries has seen imports from those countries grow at an average rate of 16 percent per year over the past decade.

In 2015, Australia’s two-way merchandise trade with countries with which Australia has an ongoing bilateral development partnership was valued at about $33 billion – more than ten times the value of the development assistance.

The Government’s economic diplomacy agenda recognises that the deployment of our foreign policy, trade and development instruments in an integrated manner delivers a better overall result.

Aid-for-trade investments without focusing on stronger market access make little sense.

10 December 2015
Shawn Clackett

Help for AIDS Fund an Investment in Health Security

By Sir Elton John. From The Australian, Tuesday 1 December 2015

When AIDS reared its ugly head in the 1980s it was the disease of the gay; a physical infection for a perceived moral imperfection. I saw dozens of my friends contract the disease and then die while the world watched on, uncertain of how to act.

As dozens turned into hundreds, then thousands and then millions, the world’s engine of compassion slowly cranked into gear.

As global apathy turned to action, my despair turned to hope – and by the turn of the millennium I could see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Now, my heart is set on seeing an end to AIDS in my lifetime.

Some 30 years on , with World AIDS Day today and before my Australian tour, I wanted to take the time to shine a light on how far we’ve come in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

After a peak in 2005, in the past decade AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 30 per cent. Much of that success is due to access to antiretroviral therapy, which particularly in poor countries has increased from 4 per cent to 40 per cent. Much of this success is because of the work of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

While the search continues for a cure and a vaccine, it now has been shown that early access to HIV testing and treatment helps to prevent new infections.

Since 2000, infection rates have fallen by 36 per cent in countries in which the fund works. When I look back at the change in attitude we have seen since the 80s, and the impact of action that we have seen since 2000, my heart is full of hope for an AIDS-free future.

Yet, as we turn our attention to our progress, it’s important to remember that there are more than 27,000 people in Australia, and more that 35 million people around the world, still living with HIV. There is still more work to be done.

By far the majority of the people with HIV and AIDS around the world are in low and middle-income countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

AIDS, like poverty, discriminates. It disproportionately targets the poor, the vulnerable and those without access to the prevention and treatment that the disease requires.

With so much progress made, it’s important for us to maintain our focus and support.

However, it seems that our two countries are now on quite different paths in terms of the priority given to aid funding.

The British government recently legislated to maintain its aid investment at the UN recommended level of 0.7 per cent of gross national income.

In contrast, Australia aid spending is set to reach 0.22 per cent next year. This will be the lowest level ever in Australian aid although we are more hopeful with the new Malcolm Turnbull-led government which has already made some positive changes. They include appointing Steve Ciobo as Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, and helping to rid the Asia-Pacific of malaria by 2030 in the recent commitment of $18 million to a new Regional Malaria and Other Communicable Disease Threats Trust Fund.

Still, this isn’t the Australia that I know. It’s the lucky country, not just because of its unsurpassable beauty but because it’s filled with people who look out for their neighbours, no matter what.

And what do these cuts mean for important initiatives such as the Global Fund and the global efforts to the end of AIDS? In 2016, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will ask donors, including Australia, for increased support for its lifesaving programs for the period of 2017 to 2019. Australia’s contribution to the Global Fund have already helped to bring about remarkable reduction in the new HIV cases, deaths from malaria and access to tuberculosis treatments, especially in the Asia-Pacific. Increasing Australia’s contribution to the fund will save lives, and is a smart investment in health security and peaceful development of fragile and vulnerable countries and regions.

When I saw the beginning of the AIDS crisis, it’s fair to say that I lost heart. But I knew that I had to help. I volunteered, I raised my voice, and eventually started the Elton John Aids Foundation. My commitment to this cause, and the commitment of people all over the world, was reflected in commitments from world leaders, and together we have seen great change.

My call now is for Australians to go and do likewise. To make your concern for your future and the future of your region known. To stand up for the great work done in your name through Australian aid. To raise your voice, and make sure that your leaders know that Australian aid is a part of what makes your country so great.

The progress that we’ve seen around the world in tackling AIDS promises a brighter future for the 27,000 Australians and the 35 million people living with HIV around the world. And you’ll play your part in that story of human progress through Australian aid.

So, are you for Australian aid? I’m proud to say I am. See you soon, Australia.

1 December 2015
Shawn Clackett

World AIDS Day 2015

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On Tuesday 1 December 2015, Ministers, shadow Ministers and Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum came together to support World AIDS Day 2015 at a Breakfast to be held at Parliament House, Canberra.

The Ministers and Members of Parliament were joined by a wide cross-section of Australia’s HIV sector including senior experts in HIV care, treatment, education, prevention and research to hear the latest on global and Australian HIV treatment and prevention initiatives.

The Australian Parliamentary World AIDS Day 2015 Breakfast was addressed by:

  • Hon Sussan Ley MP Minister for Health
  • Hon Catherine King MP Shadow Minister for Health
  • Hon Steven Ciobo MP Minister for International Development and the Pacific
  • Hon Tanya Plibersek MP Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs
  • Senators Dean Smith and Lisa Singh, Chair and Deputy Chairof the Parliamentary Liaison Group for HIV/AIDS, Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
  • Professor Andrew Grulich, Program Head, HIV Epidemiology, Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales
  • David Menadue OAM, Board Member National Association of People Living with HIV Australia
  • Bill Bowtell AO, Executive Director, Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

 

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Pacific Friends operates as a program within the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales.

Pacific Friends

Professor Janice Reid AC
Chair
Bill Bowtell AO
Executive Director

Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a high-level advocacy organisation which seeks to mobilise regional awareness of the serious threat posed by HIV & AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to societies and economies in the Pacific. In pursuing its goals Pacific Friends has a specific interest in highlighting the need to protect the rights of women and children in the Pacific.

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