The text of the following statement released by the governments of the United States and Australia sets out priorities for our health security cooperation as discussed at the 2021 Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN), 16 September 2021.
Never before has the importance of strong health security systems, at all levels, been so evident. There is much work to do before we can collectively bring COVID-19 under control, not least in the Indo-Pacific region. Our ability to prevent, detect, and respond to emerging COVID-19 viral variants, and the emergence or resurgence of other infectious diseases, depends on the capacity and resilience of national health systems across the region, which we are working together to support.
Our deep bilateral cooperation on regional health security over a number of years has provided a solid foundation for our individual and joint responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in connection with vaccine dose-sharing and delivery support. Our vaccine-related cooperation is conducted both bilaterally and within the framework of the Quad Vaccine Partnership, launched by Quad leaders in March 2021.
On the occasion of AUSMIN 2021, and in support of the goals of the United States Global Health Security Strategy and Australia’s Health Security Initiative for the Indo-Pacific region, our governments reaffirm our strong partnership and commit to enhanced cooperation throughout 2021 and beyond in the following priority areas.
- Vaccine supply and delivery support
- Sharing lifesaving safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines as donations to developing countries of the Indo-Pacific region in a spirit of partnership and cooperation, with no political strings attached.
- Providing end-to-end support to countries’ national vaccine roll-outs, including support for planning, training, cold storage, distribution and pharmacovigilance.
- Coordinating vaccine supply and delivery support, both between the United States and Australia and jointly with other key actors such as Japan, India, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and through the COVAX Facility.
- Taking forward the Quad Vaccine Partnership, under which the United States, Australia, Japan and India are expanding access to vaccines in the Indo-Pacific through additional, coordinated investments in manufacturing, procurement and delivery support.
- Supporting and facilitating the work of the COVAX Facility’s Advance Market Commitment to ensure vaccine access for nearly 30 percent of all low- and middle-income countries’ populations by early 2022.
- Identifying ways to use the work on COVID-19 vaccination to strengthen collaboration on immunization campaigns against future health security threats, as well as for routine immunizations.
- Diagnostic laboratory strengthening
- Extending existing cooperation between Australia’s Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security and the U.S. Department of Defense Cooperative Threat Reduction Program and USAID in building partner country capacity in biosecurity, biosafety and bio-surveillance.
- Developing jointly a feasibility study for a co-funded regional effort to strengthen Southeast Asia diagnostic laboratory networks with a view to move into project development and implementation in
- Field epidemiology training
- Strengthening national and regional field epidemiology training programs and regional networks, including supporting implementation of the Global Field Epidemiology Roadmap.
- Strengthening Field Epidemiology Training Program for Veterinarians (FETPV) across Southeast Asia with FAO and other development partners.
- One Health partnerships
- Through the above cooperation in laboratory strengthening and field epidemiology training, working together to help establish the Indo-Pacific regional foundations for effective, integrated global and cross-sectoral biosurveillance networks that take a One Health approach incorporating, among others, the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System, Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the new U.S. National Center for Epidemic Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics and the recently announced WHO Global Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence.
- Strengthening the Global Health Security Architecture
- Consulting closely on proposals to implement key recommendations of the Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness and Response and other relevant review processes with the aim of enhancing transparency, accountability, and creating a more independent and authoritative WHO, building more resilient national health systems, and promoting full implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005).
- Coordinating policies on the strengthening of research, development, manufacturing, regulatory processes and distribution capabilities for pandemic-response related products that are critical to public health emergency responses, including in the context of discussions about the future of the functions of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator across its vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and health systems strengthening pillars.
- Encouraging and facilitating regional coordination among the many actors in health security capacity building in Southeast Asia, including through the annual health security donor coordination forums and technical workshops co-chaired by the United States and Australia and in Pacific Island countries through the support of the Pacific Community (SPC).
- Coordinating and collaborating to advance the priorities and targets of the Global Health Security Agenda, and joint support for the associated Global Health Security Conference 2022 and concurrent Civil-Military Health Security Conference, to be held in Singapore.
- Coordinating existing country-level capacity building work in selected partner countries aimed at identifying and reducing risks of zoonotic disease spillover events in high-risk settings through collaboration with USAID’s projects and partners (WHO, OIE, FAO, UNEP, STOP Spillover, TRANSFORM and the recently established One Health High Level Expert Panel), with the aim of strengthening community-level pandemic preparedness.
- Expanding the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) program in the region, with an initial focus on Papua New Guinea.
The Governments of the United States and Australia look forward to expanding their bilateral cooperation to strengthen Indo-Pacific regional and global health security, through joint and coordinated activities, partnerships with relevant international organizations, and cooperation in international policy forums. These efforts will also need to build on currently active discussions to strengthen and reform the global health architecture. Our two countries have already established a strong track record of cooperation on infectious disease prevention, detection and response, to the benefit of our partner countries in the Indo-Pacific. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are now resolved to take our cooperation to a new level in both regional and global settings.