A FOCUS on ground-breaking tropical health research in this week’s Budget will provide “fabulous opportunities” for James Cook University and the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, says Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch.
Andrew Robb MP, Minister for Trade and Investment, has confirmed that the 2015-2016 Federal Budget will help to cement Australia’s position as a global leader in tropical health by providing $15.4 million for a new programme to support ground-breaking research.
The Australian Tropical Medicine Commercialisation Grants Programme will provide $8.5 million to commercialise research in new tropical therapeutics and diagnostics undertaken in Australia.
The Budget will also invest $6.9 million in a strategy to build Australia’s primary research capacity, funding collaborative projects focused on priority diseases including dengue, malaria, Hendra, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis and others.
Both initiatives form part of a broader suite of measures to be announced in the forthcoming White Paper on Developing Northern Australia.
“I spoke to Andrew Robb at length when he was in Cairns on Saturday and there’s no doubt that our tropical researchers and research hubs are among the world’s best,” Mr Entsch said.
“In Cairns and Townsville, James Cook University is at the forefront of the fight against tropical diseases. That’s why we were very pleased to support the expansion of the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM) with a pledge of $42 million in the 2013 election.
“I’m confident that JCU will be able to access some of this funding, and make significant inroads into detection and treatment for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis – a challenge that I’ve been raising for a long time.”
Given that the fast-growing tropical region is right on Northern Australia’s doorstep, Mr Entsch said it was vital to embrace opportunities in a whole range of sectors, including tropical medicine and research.
By 2050, half the world’s population will live in the tropical zone, including 60 per cent of its children, and the region will be home to more middle-class consumers than anywhere else.
“Australian medical research can help manage or eradicate many of the diseases specific to this region, including Australia’s own tropical zone,” Mr Robb said.
“That will not only increase quality of life for billions of people overseas, it will also aid the development of Northern Australia and increase prosperity and security for future generations of Australians.”