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New report: Melbourne Consortium gears up to fight the big bugs and the big diseases


A report released today has demonstrated that Victoria's global health sector is at the forefront in responding to the region's most alarming diseases.

The Global Health Alliance Melbourne was established in 2016 under the leadership of the Hon. John Brumby AO, and facilitates partnerships between a diverse mix of organisations - from universities to hospitals to international non-government organisations (INGOs).

The Alliance has identified the unique strengths of Victoria's health community, including:

Clinical trials: Clinical trial activity in Victoria showed a 62% increase from 2013 to 2017; and during this 4-year period, Victoria had the highest degree of registered trials compared to any other state with 1973 trials over that period. Pharmaceutical products are Victoria's tenth largest export by value, in 2013-14 generating $1.35billion in exports and 18,000 FTE in employment.

Unique clusters that have developed in Victoria with many of the key participants in the Victorian global health sector being in close geographical proximity to Australia's largest health and research precincts: Deakin, Monash and Melbourne. World Health Organisation: Victoria is home to 22 WHO Collaborating Centres which have phenomenal expertise ranging from flu to flesh-eating bacteria.

Chair of the Global Health Alliance, The Hon. John Brumby AO said: "From preventing malaria-related deaths to tackling superbugs, Victoria is at the forefront of creating innovative global health solutions."

The Alliance is currently pushing for a focused strategy to address the growth and danger of superbugs (antimicrobial resistance) because by 2050, if left unchecked, drug-resistant infections could kill up to 10 million people a year, costing the worldwide economy $100 trillion.

Misha Coleman, Executive Director, Global Health Alliance Melbourne said, "the rise of superbugs is a global health issue which significantly affects Australian patients too."

She said that "over the last 30 years, no major new types of antibiotics have been developed - so without urgent action by our member organisations, we're heading for a post-antibiotic era-where common infections and minor injuries will once again become killers".

The Global Health Alliance is focused on shining a light on the better use of antibiotics and other antimicrobials. A forthcoming survey done in 300 Australian hospitals will show that the rationale for prescribing the antimicrobial was not documented in the patient's medical record in more than 1 in 5 prescriptions, and one-third of prescriptions were not compliant with treatment guidelines. Overall, 1 in 4 antimicrobial prescriptions were assessed as inappropriate.

The latest figures in aged care facilities alone demonstrate 51.6% of prescriptions did not meet the criteria of infection.

"Our plan is to put together a super-troupe to tackle the superbugs. Across our 35 member organisations we have most of the expertise and the partnerships we need to beat the bugs - from basic research through to behaviour-change at the hospital level.

"The Asia-Pacific region is a melting pot of antimicrobial resistance, due in part to self-medication from private pharmacies and inappropriate prescribing in both the human and veterinary health sectors. And on a global level, while drugs called artemisinins have revolutionised malaria drug therapy, artemisinin resistance is spreading rapidly and has now been detected in five countries in the Greater Mekong subregion," said Ms Coleman. "  "By 2050, Asia is expected to top the global list of regions in terms of deaths from anti-microbial resistance, if left unchecked."

Victorian agencies and organisations are ready and willing to work in Australia and the greater Asia-Pacific region to stop deaths that arise from drug-resistance, starting with the implementation of effective surveillance throughout hospital systems.