Health minister Greg Hunt has announced $27 million to support the response to a national health emergency triggered by bioterrorist attack or contagious disease outbreak.
According to Mr Hunt, while the likelihood of a threat is low, the funding will support the detection and identification of biological agents of security concern and high risk contagious diseases.
Yhe 'Health Protection Program' will be delivered by three organisations:
- The National High Security Quarantine Laboratory – this secure facility is Australia's primary laboratory for the detection of highly lethal viruses infecting humans. The facility is able to detect and identify high risk pathogens such as Ebola, haemorrhagic fevers, smallpox, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and biological agents of security concern;
- The World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza – The Centre is the only one based in the southern hemisphere and provides advice on vaccines, antiviral susceptibility and risk assessment; and,
- The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia Biosecurity Quality Assurance Program – Enables laboratories and scientists to be up-to-date with other jurisdictions around the world in their knowledge and capability to rapidly detect biological agents of security concern and high risk contagious diseases.
"We have one of the world’s best health systems and this funding will ensure we continue to be vigilant in our planning and support to protect the health of Australians," said Mr Hunt.
The recent Budget also included $85.4 million to replenish the National Medicine Stockpile.