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Global health initiatives

DFAT's support for global health initiatives are an important component of the Partnerships for Recovery: Australia's COVID-19 Development Response policy. They complement and support our country and regional health programs, to improve development cooperation 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)

$13.0 million (2022-23 core 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 global responses to global and regional health threats, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and is the lead for the UN Inter-Agency Standing Committee's Global Health Cluster in humanitarian emergencies.

Australia (DFAT) provides the WHO with annual core voluntary contributions in a flexible and predictable manner to support its Thirteenth General Programme of Work 2019-23 and to advance Sustainable Development Goal 3 - Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages, by:

  • achieving universal health coverage
  • addressing health emergencies
  • promoting healthier populations.

The WHO continues to focus its expertise and coordination on 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 to develop and deliver safe and affordable COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines
  • supporting the delivery of essential health services.

Australia is working closely with the WHO and partners to reform global health systems, including the WHO, to enhance our collective capabilities to prevent, prepare for and respond to future pandemics and health emergencies.

Related links

World Health Organization

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

$9.24 million (2022-23 annual core contribution)

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is a key organisation in supporting global achievement of the health, education and gender equality objectives under the Sustainable Development Goals. It is the lead organisation within the UN system responsible for ensuring progress towards universal access for sexual and reproductive health (SRH), including improving maternal health, increasing access to family planning services, preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, and gender-based violence (GBV) 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 2020. The Plan focuses on continuity of SRH services and 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).

Related links

United Nations Population Fund

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

$4.5 million (2022-23 annual 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/AIDS response.

Australia provides UNAIDS with annual core funding, to support the contribution of UNAIDS to the implementation of the Global AIDS 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
  • support implementation of multi-month dispensing of antiretroviral therapy.

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Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI)

$7.5 million (2021-22 annual core contribution)

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 per cent. In 2021, there were only five cases of wild poliovirus worldwide. GPEI considers global polio eradication is achievable in the coming years. There remain 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.

GPEI suspended polio vaccination campaigns in March 2020 due to the outbreak of COVID-19 as door-to-door immunisation increases the risks posed by COVID-19 to frontline workers and the community. By February 2021, campaigns had resumed in endemic and outbreak countries. Throughout the pandemic, GPEI has worked to deliver regular and targeted immunisation campaigns, and has also optimised the polio workforce to assist with the COVID-19 response.

Related links

Global Polio Eradication Initiative

International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)

$3.6 million (2021-22 annual core contribution)

IPPF is one of the largest non-government providers of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services worldwide. It is also a leading global advocate for sexual and reproductive health rights. In 2020, it provided 218.5 million services and contributed to 136 major policy/advocacy outcomes in support of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Australia has funded IPPF since 1974 and provided core contributions since 1992. Australia provides an additional $1 million per year as ‘Pacific core’ funding ($4 million over 4 years) to support implementation of IPPF’s first ever Pacific Strategy 2019-2022, developed with Australia’s support.

IPPF’s Pacific COVID-19 response included the development of innovative modalities for continuing services during lock down such as home delivery of commodities and online counselling, enabling it to reach more clients in 2020 than ever before.

Related links

International Planned Parenthood Federation

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

$122 million (2022-2023)

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. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria in our region affects Australia's national interest both directly, through the immediate health risks to our citizens, and indirectly, through the loss of economic opportunities.

Australia pledged AUD242 million (2020-22) to the Global Fund, of which ten per cent (AUD24.2 million) has been ‘set aside’ to support investments (such as laboratory capacity strengthening and HIV prevention) in the Indo-Pacific between 2021-23. The Global Fund is providing immediate funding to help countries fight COVID-19, to mitigate the COVID-19-related impacts on AIDS, TB and malaria programs, and prevent fragile health systems from being overwhelmed.

Since 2002, the Global Fund has worked in partnership with national governments, civil society, the private sector and people affected by HIV, TB and malaria to achieve:

  • 44 million lives saved
  • a decline of nearly 50 per cent in the number of people dying from HIV, TB and malaria since 2002, in countries where the Global Fund invests
  • 21.9 million people on antiretroviral therapy for HIV – more than half the global total
  • USD7.8 billion in programs to prevent TB, representing 77 per cent of all international financing
  • USD14.7 billion for the fight against malaria, representing 56 per cent of all international financing.

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 is providing USD4 billion globally in emergency funding in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fund is supporting frontline health workers to access personal protective equipment, on top of providing grant support for COVID-19 diagnostic tests, treatment (including medical oxygen) and health system strengthening. This support is critical to protecting the gains made against AIDS, TB and malaria.

Related links

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Gavi the Vaccine Alliance

$300 million (2021-2025)

Australia is funding Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance with a further $300 million from 2021 to 2025 to support immunisation and health systems, and introduce new vaccines in developing countries.

Gavi works to reduce childhood deaths through helping low-income countries procure new and underused vaccines at globally low prices. These vaccines tackle the most common causes of childhood illness and death, including pneumonia, diarrhea and measles.

Gavi has a deep and enduring commitment to the Indo-Pacific, having supported 16 neighbouring countries with more than USD4.2 billion in vaccine, health system, and immunisation systems support since 2000. Between 2000 and 2020, Gavi's support has led to the immunisation of more than 888 million children worldwide, averting more than 15 million future deaths.

Related links

Gavi the Vaccine Alliance


In response to the devastating health and economic impacts of COVID-19, Australia is providing AUD130 million for the COVAX Facility Advanced Market Commitment (AMC) to support lower-income countries to have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccinations.

Gavi is co-leading COVAX with the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and UNICEF as a key delivery partner. COVAX procures and delivers COVID-19 vaccines, under the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.

As of February 2022, COVAX has delivered over 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to 86 developing countries.

Related links

COVAX Facility

Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health

$40.5 million (2015-2023)

Data for Health (D4H) is co-funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Australian Government (DFAT) and since early 2019, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to strengthen collection and use of public health data in low and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia, the Pacific and Latin America. This assists governments to understand the priority health challenges, develop policies, deploy resources and measure success.

D4H investments have improved quality of birth and death registration by modernising national reporting systems; training people in hospitals and communities to more accurately record cause of death; and by supporting governments to prepare better and more frequent reporting.

For example, data on out-of-hospital deaths is being collected by partner governments through a method called ‘verbal autopsy' where local health workers interview family and community members to determine the cause of death. Solomon Islands is the first country to reach national-scale automated Verbal Autopsy (using handheld devices such as tablets) and completed their first ever national-level analysis of medically certified cause of death and verbal autopsies.

Related documents *

Name of document Year published Type
Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health: Mid-term review executive summary 2017 Review
Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health: Solomon Islands country case study 2017 Case study

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* The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is committed to high standards of transparency and accountability in the management of the Australian aid program through publishing information on our website, including policies, plans, results, evaluations and research. Our practice is to publish documents after the partner government and any other partners directly involved in the delivery of the initiative have been consulted. Not all material published on this site is created by the Australian aid program and therefore not all documents reflect our views. In limited circumstances some information may be withheld for reasons including privacy and commercial sensitivity

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