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Global health initiatives

To complement and support our country and regional health programs, DFAT also supports global initiatives to improve development co-operation on priority health issues, and to increase the effectiveness of our health development program. Information on some of these key activities can be found below.

World Health Organization (WHO)

$12.4 million (2019-20 core voluntary contribution)

The WHO is the directing and coordinating authority on international health within the United Nations (UN) system. It delivers technical expertise to countries in our region, assisting governments to build country-level health systems and services that are responsive to people's health needs. The WHO plays a lead role in supporting countries to prepare for, identify and respond to emerging diseases, as well as strengthening regional preparedness and capacity to respond to health threats. It also leads responses to global and regional health threats and is the lead for the UN Inter-Agency Standing Committee's Global Health Cluster in humanitarian emergencies.

Australia provides the WHO with annual core voluntary contributions in a flexible and predictable manner to support their General Programme of Work.

In 2020, the WHO focussed on diverting its expertise and coordination towards responding to COVID-19, including:

  • coordinating UN actors, providing guidance, mobilising resources, and advising governments and the public.
  • working with countries to share evidence, prepare and implement national response plans, and disseminate critical public information.
  • harnessing global Research and Development collaboration efforts.
  • leading international collaboration on the development of a framework to enable fair and equitable allocation of safe and affordable COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.

Australia is working closely with WHO and partners to take forward WHO’s commitment to an independent review of the response to COVID-19 to ensure that WHO’s ability to prevent and manage future pandemics is strengthened.

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United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

$9.24 million (2019-2020 core contribution)

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is key organisation in supporting global achievement of the health, education and gender equality objectives under the Sustainable Development Goals. It is the lead organization within the UN system responsible for ensuring progress towards universal access for sexual and reproductive health, including improving maternal health, increasing access to family planning services, and preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, gender-based violence as well as addressing issues such as forced and early childhood marriage. UNFPA also provides technical guidance, training and support to its partners in the field to collect, analyse and apply population data for improved, evidence based public policy. Australia provides UNFPA with annual core voluntary contributions in a flexible and predictable manner to support the implementation of UNFPA's Strategic Plan.

UNFPA responded quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic, launching its Global Response Plan setting out its pivot to a COVID-19 response in April 2019. The Plan focuses on continuity of SRH services and gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and response, risk communication and community engagement, and provision of lifesaving supplies including contraceptives, maternal health drugs and supplies, and personal protective equipment (PPE).

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The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)

$4.5 million (2019-20 core contribution)

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) is the primary global multilateral agency responding to HIV/AIDS. Its mandate is to provide international coordination, leadership, strategic guidance and advocacy to mobilise global resources for the HIV response.

Australia provides UNAIDS with annual core funding, to support implementation of the UNAIDS Strategy, with a focus on the Indo-Pacific region.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, UNAIDS is working with governments and community partners to:

  • Conduct rapid surveys to assess the availability of HIV services, medication and relevant information;
  • Identify HIV service interruptions and develop plans for access to those services; and
  • Support implementation of multi-month dispensing of antiretroviral therapy.

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Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI)

$69 million (2015-23)

The world has made great gains in polio eradication. Since GPEI’s inception in 1988, the incidence of polio has decreased by more than by 99 percent. GPEI considers global polio eradication is achievable in the coming years. There remains only two countries in which wild poliovirus still circulates, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The WHO announced on 25 August 2020 that transmission of the wild poliovirus has officially been stopped in all 47 countries of its African region.

Australia is committed to global polio eradication. Our investment approach supports global polio eradication efforts, and protects Australian interests by managing the risk of polio re-emerging in our region.

In March 2020, GPEI suspended immunisation campaigns due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Door-to-door immunisation increases the risks posed by COVID-19 to frontline workers and the community. The GPEI resumed polio eradication activities in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (includes Afghanistan and Pakistan) in July 2020 under strict COVID-19 infection prevention and control measures.

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International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)

$3.6 million (2019-20 core contribution)

IPPF is one of the largest non-government providers of sexual and reproductive health services (SRH) worldwide. It is also a leading global advocate for sexual and reproductive rights. In 2019, it provided 252.3 million SRH services and contributed to 163 major policy/advocacy outcomes in support of SRHR.

DFAT has funded IPPF since 1974 and provided core contributions since 1992. In 2019, Australia was the 6th largest provider of core funding to IPPF. DFAT’s latest funding agreement with IPPF is providing $18.4 million over four years (2019-2022), for core ($14.4) and Pacific ($4m) activities. Pacific funding supports IPPF’s implementation of its first ever Pacific Strategy 2019-2022 (commenced 1 January 2019), developed with DFAT. IPPF’s global budget was currently around $191 million for 2019.

DFAT provided an additional $825,000 in 2020 to strengthen IPPF’s Pacific COVID response including innovative modalities for continuing services during lock down (eg home delivery of commodities, and online counselling).

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Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

$242 million (2020-2022)

Australia contributes to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, an international financing partnership that supports large-scale prevention, treatment and care programs and strengthens health systems in developing countries.

Australia pledged $242 million (2020-22) to the Global Fund. The Global Fund is providing immediate funding to help countries fight COVID-19, which aim to mitigate the impacts on programs for the three diseases (AIDS, TB and malaria), and prevent fragile health systems from being overwhelmed. Activities include, but are not limited to, epidemic preparedness assessment, laboratory testing, sample transportation, use of surveillance infrastructure, infection control in health facilities, and information campaigns. The Global Fund has made US$1 billion available to help countries fight COVID-19, mitigate the impacts on lifesaving HIV, TB and malaria programs, and initiatives to make urgent improvements in health and community systems, including laboratory networks, supply chains and engagement with vulnerable communities.

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Gavi the Vaccine Alliance

$300 million (2020-2025)

Australia contributes to Gavi the Vaccine Alliance to support immunisation and health systems, and introduce new vaccines in developing countries.

In response to the devastating health and economic impacts of COVID-19, DFAT is supporting Gavi with a further $300 million from 2020-2025 for routine immunisations, as well as $80 million for Gavi’s COVAX Advanced Market Coordination (AMC) mechanism to ensure lower-income countries have equal access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccinations. Gavi has also assumed a significant global leadership role in the race to develop, manufacture and equitably distribute COVID−19 vaccines. The multilateral COVID−19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX Facility) is designed to achieve global access to COVID−19 vaccines. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gavi is also providing immediate funding to health systems, enabling countries to protect health care workers, perform vital surveillance and training, and purchase diagnostic tests.

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