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GAVI CEO says Australian science has been critical in vaccine development

Burnet Institute

22 March, 2012

Photo courtesy of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) Alliance CEO Dr Seth Berkley says Australian funding will play a crucial role in savings lives in the developing world.

Dr Berkley is in Australia meeting with politicians, government officials and civil society organisations and has delivered a speech to a packed audience at the Australian National University in Canberra.

“Effective action can and must be taken to eliminate preventable diseases,” Dr Berkley said.

“Immunisation is often the one entry point for delivering health outcomes to people in the developing world.”

Dr Berkley told ABC Breakfast that as well as Australia contributing significant funding to GAVI ($94 million), Australian science has been critical in the development of vaccines.

“The first isolation of the rotovirus was done here in Australia, the human papillomavirus vaccine was also discovered here, hepatitis B was another one, so an amazing use of Australian science in producing these vaccines.”

Dr Berkley said that a third of GAVI’s support goes to the Asia Pacific region so the organisation works closely with AusAID and Australian NGOs on the ground to get the vaccines to the people who need it.

Burnet Institute is working towards vaccines against several diseases as well as participating in a number of immunisation programs through our public health work. The Institute has labs working towards vaccines for malaria, hepatitis C, influenza, HIV and a number of cancers.

A significant part of Burnet’s history is the work of Professor Ian Gust AO and Associate Professor Tilman Ruff in the late 1980s in hepatitis B vaccine delivery programs in Lombok, Indonesia.

These studies were instrumental in accelerating the introduction of the hepatitis B vaccine into routine birth-dose immunisation programs worldwide.

Head of Burnet’s Centre for International Health, Professor Mike Toole is on the Independent Monitoring Board for the Polio Global Eradication Initiative.

Dr Chris Morgan and Dr Tony Stewart, also from the Centre for International Health, and Deputy Director, Associate Professor David Anderson were co-signatories on the ‘Melbourne Statement’ on Prevention of Perinatal Transmission of Hepatitis B Virus, endorsed by participants in the WHO Consultation on Best Practices and Tools for Preventing Perinatal Hepatitis B Virus Transmission held at the Burnet in December 2010.

CLICK HERE for more information about Dr Berkley’s visit.

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Professor Michael Toole AM

Former Board member, Special Advisor on Nutrition

Telephone

+61392822216

Email

mike.toole@burnet.edu.au

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