Govt prepares for pandemics, bioterrorism

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Millions in funding to go towards detecting high-risk contagious diseases and biological agents of security concern

The federal government is allocating $27 million towards the planning and response for a national health emergency, should one be triggered by bioterrorist attack or contagious disease outbreak. 

It says that while the likelihood of such a threat is “low”, it is taking steps to ensure the nation is prepared.

“The security and safety of every single Australian is our number one priority,” says the Health Department.

“We are taking action to minimise the impact of any unforeseen health risks which may be caused by naturally occurring disease outbreaks and deliberate bioterrorist actions.”

The money will be going towards organisations that detect:

  • High-risk pathogens such as Ebola, haemorrhagic fevers, smallpox, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and biological agents of security concern; and
  • Influenza viruses with pandemic potential.

“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,” says the government.

“This was also reflected in the Budget where we secured the supply of uniquely Australian antivenoms, Q fever and pandemic influenza vaccines.

“Access to medicines and operational capability that supports the response to a national health emergency has been boosted by our $85.4 million investment over three years in the National Medicine Stockpile.”

The National Medical Stockpile is a strategic reserve of drugs, vaccines, antidotes and protective equipment for use in the national response to a public health emergency which could arise from natural causes or terrorist activities.

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