Research consortia strengthening infectious disease preparedness and outbreak control in the Asia and Pacific regions

Two closely linked research consortia based at the Doherty Institute are strengthening preparedness and improving capacity to tackle infectious disease outbreaks in the Asia and Pacific regions.

SPARK (Strengthening Preparedness in the Asia-Pacific Region through Knowledge) is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security and is a consortium of research institutes from around Australia and the Asia-Pacific region, including Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand.

It was established to boost preparedness by building in-country capacity for infectious diseases control, focusing on public health workforce development, strengthening outbreak detection and management systems and processes, and improved use of evidence to inform policy and operational response.

SPECTRUM (Supporting Participatory Evidence generation to Control Transmissible diseases in our Region Using Modelling) is a Centre of Research Excellence funded by the Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council.

The Centre for Research Excellence aims to enhance national and regional decision making to improve the control of infectious diseases, using a participatory approach to generating and incorporating evidence into policy and practice.

Its vision is to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with long-term and emerging infectious diseases challenges in Australia and our region.

Led by Director of Doherty Epidemiology, University of Melbourne Professor Jodie McVernon, both SPARK and SPECTRUM will have a significant impact on how the Asia and Pacific regions can prepare and respond to infectious diseases outbreaks.

“There is a disproportionate burden of infectious diseases in impoverished areas, which persist because of social and environmental factors, weak health systems and infrastructure,” Professor McVernon said.

“A key challenge for managing infectious diseases is that endemic and epidemic infectious diseases occur over vastly different timeframes, there is no one-size-fits-all approach or solution.

“Modelling and decision science approaches provide useful frameworks in the development process to address this challenge.”