Skip to main content

Development assistance in the Pacific

Pacific regional – healthy communities

Overview

COVID-19

This page gives an overview of Australia’s work in the health sector across the Pacific, under Pillar 1 (Health Security) of Australia’s Partnerships for Recovery: Australia’s COVID-19 Development Response. It also outlines key related initiatives and summaries of programming and related documents.

Our Pacific neighbours are particularly vulnerable to the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. Partnerships for Recovery: Australia’s COVID-19 Development Response notes that our shared health security depends on controlling COVID-19 transmission rates in our region, and that economic recovery will depend on the impact of evolving international border settings on global and regional trade, travel and tourism.

Australia is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our Pacific family to build collective resilience to health threats, as we traverse the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in our region. We continue to respond to partner countries' vaccine needs on request. Additionally, Australia is providing $215 million to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), which is providing vaccines to low- and middle-income countries. We are also working with our Quad partners to share vaccines where needed.

Related links

Building resilient health systems

“The pandemic has underscored that health is inextricably linked with people's lives and broader social wellbeing.”

WHO WPRO Regional Director, Dr Takeshi Kasai, at the 14th Pacific Health Ministers’ Meeting hosted virtually 22-24 March 2022.

Investment in health and health systems in the Pacific is critical to economic development, labour mobility and health security – all priorities of Australia's engagement in the region.

The Pacific faces a growing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), persistent health security threats including climate-exacerbated disasters, as well as significant unmet need for family planning and rising rates of teenage pregnancy.

Maintaining a focus on strengthening health systems and universal health coverage, in addition to the pandemic response, is essential for regional health security.

Australia’s long standing health support responds to the major health challenges and priorities of Pacific governments. 

Related initiatives

The Pacific Community (SPC) Public Health Division (PHD)

The Pacific Community (SPC) is the leading technical and scientific organisation in the Pacific. Australia provides funding to SPC's Public Health Division (PHD), which supports 22 Pacific Island Countries (PICs) and territories to:

  • improve disease surveillance and response;
  • prevent and control non-communicable diseases (NCDs);
  • improve clinical services across the region
  • strengthen regional health governance and policy by convening key regional health governance meetings, such as the Pacific Health Ministers Meeting.
Pacific Community, Communaute du Pacifique

Pacific health ministers committed to the Healthy Islands Vision

$10.9 million, 2021-2024

More about the Pacific Community (SPC) Public Health Division


Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) – Pacific Island Program (PIP)

Most Pacific island countries rely on visiting medical teams (VMTs) and overseas medical referrals to supplement local clinical capacity.

RACS supports VMTs to deliver specialist care across the Pacific in coordination with other Australian medical colleges. Since 2017, RACS has provided specialist consultation and surgical treatment to over 4300 patients through 135 visiting medical teams to 10 PICs;  and mentored over 500 specialists, and; contributed to courses at the Fiji National University (FNU).

$7.5 million, 2016-2022

More about the Pacific Island Program (PIP)

Royal Australasian College of Surgeons

Fiji National University (FNU) College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (CMNHS)

FNU CMNHS is working to address the diverse health workforce training needs across the Pacific. FNU CMNHS partners with Pacific Ministries of Health to ensure its courses are relevant to the changing disease burdens and health workforce needs across the region.

Fiji National University

Between 2016 and 2022, DFAT provided 73 scholarships for medical and nursing students in CMNHS. Of these, 65 students were from PICs outside Fiji, 29 undertook post-graduate studies, and 12 studied nursing.

During the COVID pandemic, FNU CMNHS pivoted the delivery of a significant number of courses to online and distance-flexible learning mode to support student learning over this period. The College also developed new short courses and training programmes targeted at supporting the Pacific health workforce in the COVID-19 health recovery and response efforts.

In partnership with the Fiji Ministry of Health & Medical Services, the College is conducting the first COVID-19 Serosurvey in the Pacific region (2022-2024).

$2.875 million (2021-2024)

More about FNU's College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (CMNHS)


International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)

IPPF works to unite partnerships with governments, faith-based and civil society organisations to improve access to sexual and reproductive health services in nine Pacific countries; especially in hard-to-reach locations and for hard-to-reach populations.

$4 million, 2019-2022

Ten people wearing uniforms

IPPF-DFAT Pacific launch 2018. Director General Dr Alvaro Bermajo and Member Association representatives. Photo: IPPF, Fiji


World Bank – Universal Health Coverage

Australia is supporting the World Bank’s work with  Pacific partner countries to  improve universal health coverage. Our funding contributes to the World Bank’s health analytics and technical assistance activities, which support partner governments to work towards strengthened health financing and health services delivery systems.

The World Bank

The World Bank is working with Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu to strengthen their planning and budget implementation to explore options for improving efficiency and equity of resource allocation in the health sector.

$5 million, 2018-2031


Pacific Medicines Testing Program (PMTP) Phase Two – Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)

Through the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), Australia supports testing of pharmaceutical products from 12 PICs and Timor-Leste for quality, safety and efficacy. Testing focuses on medicines for non-communicable diseases (such as diabetes and heart disease), antibiotics and COVID-19 therapeutic goods such as face masks. Countries can also request testing for medicines suspected to be substandard.

$1.9 million, 2021-2025

Pharmacist and shelf of medicines
Back to top