Medical Research Strategy launched
26 October, 2012
Developing a better cholera vaccine in Bangladesh. Photo: Conor Ashleigh for AusAID
AusAID has launched its Medical Research Strategy, which will guide how the Agency funds research into new technologies for diseases that affect the poor.
The world’s poorest and most vulnerable people bear the greatest burden of disease and ill health. Investing in medical research helps improve their health by addressing the failure of commercial markets to invest in diseases that affect them, such as tuberculosis (TB) and malaria.
For some of these diseases there is a need for drugs, vaccines, or tests to detect who is ill. This can be because they do not exist, or because they are inappropriate for use in poor communities.
For example, some malaria treatments are difficult to use. Primaquine is a malaria treatment drug that is both affordable and effective against one of the two types of malaria in the Asia-Pacific region.
However, it can cause a severe and sometimes fatal reaction in people with a hereditary condition called G6PD deficiency. The available tests for the deficiency are expensive or difficult to use in places without electricity, meaning patients who have malaria often begin treatment without being tested, or are sometimes not treated at all.
A new test that could be used in these settings would allow patients to access treatments that are appropriate and safe.
The approach to medical research
Testing for malaria in the Solomon Islands. Photo: Jeremy Miller / AusAID
AusAID will support research that creates new tools and technologies, or designs better ways to use current ones, to overcome these types of barriers. AusAID’s focus is on the diseases and health issues which have a large burden on poor people—particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
AusAID’s funding will also encourage innovation and collaboration. It will build the ability of our partner countries to conduct research and use it effectively, as well as create links between medical research institutions in the region.
We will do this by investing in a range of research activities, from testing if and how new products work, through to investigating how they can be used best in particular places.
We will do this by providing support to Product Development Partnerships (PDPs). These partnerships are not-for-profit organisations that focus on combating diseases of the poor by managing a variety of medical research activities to create new drugs, vaccines or diagnostic tests.
PDPs are a new model for product development but they have already created 20 products for poverty-related diseases and they have hundreds of other products in the pipeline.
AusAID will also work with the National Health and Medical Research Council to support new partnerships between researchers to better understand how the medicines and tests that we already have can be best used. This research will provide evidence on the best treatment for patients in particular places, or with particular characteristics (for example, adapting the use of medicines to be safe for pregnant women). These partnerships will focus on the results of research being quickly put into practice to have the maximum impact.
AusAID’s support to health research
AusAID funds research to improve the relevance, quality and effectiveness of Australian aid in developing countries. Between July 2007 and June 2012, AusAID provided more than $100 million to research for health. This research supported our work by examining how to improve health systems and deliver pro poor health investments in developing countries.
Under the Medical Research Strategy, AusAID will now also begin to invest in the development of tools and technologies which can be used in these settings to improve the health of the poor.
AusAID’s Medical Research Strategy
AusAID’s Research Strategy 2012–16
AusAID's work on health
Last Reviewed: 26 October, 2012