Australia takes a big bite of tropical medicine

AUSTRALIA is likely to improve its expertise and methods in tropical medicine through improved investments in research through the Federal Government’s Hot North program.

In early 2018, 13 medical researchers and projects tackling critical health issues across northern Australia received $6 million in new funding through the Hot North program, which is led by the Menzies School of Health Research.

“These issues include vector-borne and emerging infectious diseases, particularly malaria, and skin health, chronic disease, anti-microbial resistance and respiratory health,” Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said. 

Mr Canavan said the first Hot North  research grants and fellowships went to researchers from the Menzies School of Health Research, Telethon Kids Institute, James Cook University and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

“These 13 new research projects add to more than 20 others already underway into health problems such as malaria, pneumonia, the spread of respiratory diseases, tuberculosis, diabetes and rheumatic heart disease in the Northern Territory and in nearby countries,” Mr Canavan said.

“Hot North is helping to build Australia’s reputation as a global leader in tropical medicine and to create a thriving community of researchers in the north who will make a real difference to the health of Australians and our regional neighbours into the future.

“This research is identifying emerging medical threats within the region and build local capacity to address them.”

Mr Canavan said innovation and research were keys to enhancing the north’s competitiveness.

“As well as building our research capacity in areas like tropical health and biosecurity, we are supporting researchers to commercialise new ideas, treatments and therapies, and to partner with international researchers and companies,” Mr Canavan said.

“Through initiatives like the CRC for Developing Northern Australia, we are also helping northern-based businesses and industry collaborate with researchers to generate new ideas and innovation that leverages the north’s strengths and address its challenges.”

Established in 2017, the Hot North program will run until 2020, and brings eight of Australia’s leading medical research institutions together to focus on Northern Australia and the South East Pacific.

About 25 percent of the Hot North support goes to Australia’s neighbours in the South East Pacific, supporting two medical research hubs in Malaysia and Indonesia, and a number of Australian researchers are collaborating with local health professionals.

Hot North  is also running professional teaching workshops in remote locations in the north, such as Katherine, Broome and the Torres Strait, so that northern tropical medicine experts and local health practitioners can share knowledge and ideas.


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