Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's 2015-16 budget proposal has invested $100 million in Australia’s Department of Health to improve the country’s responses to national emergencies.
Qualifying national emergencies are health crises that are caused by either natural disasters or terrorist attacks. The funds are meant to help improve Australia’s response time to be more effective and efficient.
Sussan Ley, Australia’s Minister for Health, has stated that the funds will help Australia to maintain its position as an international leader in offering emergency health protection.
“The National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre and the National Medical Stockpile are the backbone of our national health emergency management capability in the event of a bio-terrorist attack or devastating natural disaster,” Ley said. “This $100 million package means Australia continues to be well prepared to respond to a health emergency at home or abroad.”
The investment includes $34 million allocated to the National Medical Stockpile as well as $64 million dedicated to the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre in Darwin. It will be used to restock vaccines, drugs, protective equipment and antidotes. These steps will be taken to prevent and protect the country from chemical, biological or radiological incident as well as a disease pandemic.
“In a time of national emergency such as an influenza pandemic or a bio-terrorist attack the National Medical Stockpile is a key element in defending Australians,” Ley said. “In recent times we have seen disease threats like the bird flu pandemic and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome outbreak, while last year was one of the worst flu seasons on record. These recent outbreaks reinforce the importance of maintaining our strategic reserve of drugs, vaccines and antidotes.”
The $64 million will be used to improve the nation’s response to natural disasters, such as cyclones in Vanuatu and northern Australia.
“The National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre plays a key role during a national or international emergency to support the rapid and effective deployment of medical assistance teams,” Ley said. “Our specialist Australian Medical Assistance Teams have a proud history of responding in times of international need and the recent support provided to Vanuatu confirms the important work of this center.”