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Regional health initiatives

DFAT's support for regional 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 global 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.

Regional initiatives also include the Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security, and the Pacific Regional Health Program.

Indo-Pacific Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights COVID-19 Response

$44 million (2021-2023)

The Indo-Pacific Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights COVID-19 Response (SRHR COVID-19 Surge) investment will provide a focused, 24-month program across the Indo-Pacific to quickly accelerate the capacity of service providers and technical specialists to help address urgent unmet need for sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and information. The SRHR COVID-19 Surge investment is being delivered in 22 countries in Asia and the Pacific by UNICEF, UNFPA, Marie Stopes international Australia and the International Planned Parenthood Federation. It will work to improve access to quality information and services on family planning, preventing and treating sexually transmitted diseases, and maternal and newborn health. The program will also strengthen family planning supply chain systems and the quality of data.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on SRH services across the world. It is unwinding development gains, with a disproportionate impact on women and girls, affecting their health, education, economic empowerment and gender equality. In the Indo-Pacific, strained health systems are diverting resources and disrupting the delivery of SRH services at a critical time.

World Bank Group: ‘Advance UHC’ trust fund

$76.7 million (2015-2025)

Established in 2015,Advance UHC is a multi-donor trust fund instigated by DFAT and managed by the World Bank. It supports 13 countries across the Indo-Pacific to work towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) through strengthened health financing and health service delivery systems. This includes Indonesia, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Cambodia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Tonga, Samoa and Timor Leste.

Advance UHC generates and uses strong health financing analytics and knowledge-based technical assistance to drive policy dialogue, health sector reform and knowledge-sharing between countries. It also uses DFAT grant funds for co-financing to leverage and influence the design of sizeable health sector loans and grants from other agencies, including the International Development Association (IDA), Gavi, Global Fund and the Global Financing Facility.

As an increasing number of countries in the region make political commitments to UHC, DFAT's funding through Advance UHC is well positioned to support them with the practicalities of this ambition. Advance UHC is also contributing to the aid effectiveness agenda by improving donor coordination and practices.

The work of Advance UHC remains highly relevant in the COVID-19 context, encompassing both the coverage of essential health services, including critical public health and preventive services, and financial protection of the most vulnerable in need of health services. DFAT is engaging closely with the World Bank on optimising the complementarity of the work of Advance UHC and the COVID-19 response in the region. The World Bank has used Advance UHC funding to produce ongoing analyses of the likely impact of COVID-19 on health financing across the region.

Related links

Transformative Agenda for Women, Youth and Adolescents in the Pacific

$30 million (2018-2022)

Australia has committed $30 million through the UNFPA for a four-year partnership to improve access to quality sexual and reproductive health and rights in six priority countries in the Pacific: Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. The Transformative Agenda is expanding and improving sexual and reproductive health services, particularly for family planning, including information and education, building capacity of health workers, improving health information management, and strengthening youth-friendly and disability-inclusive services. These services are vital to helping women and girls to remain in education longer and enable them to participate equally in the economy and society. It also helps contribute to more sustainable and inclusive social and economic development.

The partnership will support partner governments to transform lives by ensuring more women and young people in the Pacific have improved information, and quality services, with a focus on increased access to family planning information and services. The program will also support improved policy development and regulatory frameworks by working with relevant ministries and assisting them to obtain, analyse and disseminate data to support public policy. The Transformative Agenda is complemented by Australia’s contribution to the UNFPA Supplies Partnership, which is helping to ensure essential reproductive and maternal health commodities are available across Pacific countries.

Related documents*

Name of document Year published Type
A Transformative Agenda for women, adolescents and youth in the Pacific: Towards zero unmet need for family planning 2018 Programme
A Transformative Agenda for Women, Adolescents and Youth in the Pacific: Towards Zero Unmet Need for Family Planning - mid term review and management response 2020/2021 Mid Term Review and Management Response

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Supplies Partnership

$14 million (2018-2021)

The Supplies Program is UNFPA's flagship initiative for helping countries access a reliable supply of reproductive health commodities (RHC), including essential maternal health and contraceptive supplies.

It supports countries with the greatest needs, helping them to strengthen their supply chains so that women, men and adolescent girls and boys can access a choice of contraceptives no matter where they live, and life-saving maternal health medicines are delivered to adolescents and women who need them most. The 51 focus countries (under the Phase 3 program 2021-2030), have high maternal death rates, low rates of contraceptive use and growing unmet need for family planning. Many of these countries are crisis-affected. UNFPA Supplies also works to improve the capacity of national health systems to manage and allocate funding for RCH.


UNFPA works in all Supplies' target countries, including PNG and all 14 Pacific countries and territories, to procure and distribute RCH and strengthen supply chain management.

The UNFPA Supplies investment is an important complement to DFAT's other major UNFPA family planning investment in our region, A Transformative Agenda for Women, Adolescents and Youth in the Pacific -Towards Zero Unmet Need for Family Planning 2018-2022.

h2 id="hiv">Indo-Pacific HIV Prevention Programme 2021-2023

$11.65 million (2021-2023)

A component of Australia's Global Fund set-aside for the sixth replenishment (2020-2022), this regional investment with UNAIDS seeks to strengthen HIV prevention and testing efforts in the Indo-Pacific. Through the Indo-Pacific HIV Prevention Programme, Australia is supporting efforts to increase uptake and access to HIV prevention and testing services for key populations. UNAIDS will work with civil society and national partners in Cambodia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines to: remove policy, legal and regulatory impediments to accessing quality prevention and testing services; support community organisations reach key populations; and, increase access to quality services to maximise health outcomes for key populations. This will complement work at the regional level, including regional advocacy and support to key population networks.

This investment is particularly relevant in the COVID-19 context, with the pandemic impacting on access to HIV prevention programs and testing services.

Global Fund Laboratory Strengthening Activities

These investments support and strengthen laboratory capacity for testing and diagnosis of HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and COVID-19 in the Indo-Pacific region. They complement and protect Global Fund investments and are funded through Australia's Global Fund set-aside.

Integrated Laboratory Support for High- Impact Infectious Diseases in the Indo-Pacific Region During the COVID-19 Era

$5.2 million (2021-2023)

Cambodia, Lao PDR and Papua New Guinea: This investment is being led by a consortium of Australia's leading infectious disease research centres—the Kirby, Doherty, and Burnet Institutes—together with international collaborators, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and FIND, the global alliance for diagnostics. It aims to provide higher quality and more timely testing systems for HIV, TB, malaria and COVID-19, which can be sustained and expanded as needed during surges in the COVID-19 pandemic while also improving clinical and public health outcomes. It will continue to strengthen technical partnerships between experts in Australia's world-class institutions and their regional counterparts.

Strengthening Malaria, TB, COVID-19, HIV diagnosis in Timor-Leste (MATCH TL)

$5.4 million (2021-2023)

Timor-Leste: This investment is led by the Menzies School of Health Research. It aims to strengthen the capacity of the National Health Laboratory in Timor-Leste, improve access to decentralised rapid diagnostic testing and provide contemporary epidemiological data that can be used to inform policy decisions and public health responses to malaria, TB, COVID-19 and HIV in Timor-Leste.

Specialist Health Service

$9.6 million (2015-22)

Established in 2015, the goal of the Specialist Health Service (SHS) is to improve the performance of Australia's international development activities in the health sector, through contributions to health policy, strategic planning and health programming.

The SHS enables all areas of the department, in Canberra and at Post, to quickly source health technical assistance. This service is provided by Abt Associates Pty Ltd.

Related links

Related documents*

Name of document Year published Type
Review of DFAT’s Health advisory services – Specialist Health Service and DFAT management response 2021 Review and management response

* 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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