Developing capacity in infectious diseases and microbiology


Teaching Lab in Jakarta

The discovery of antibiotics in the early to mid-20th century was a significant health achievement. The ready availability and ease of use of antibiotics has led to a dramatic reduction in the threat of infectious diseases and resulted in the saving of millions of lives. However, inherent with their use is the development of antimicrobial resistance. Antimicrobial resistance is a significant global health concern and may reverse many of the advances made against infectious diseases. The number of drug resistant organisms is increasing rapidly, many with multiple drug resistance, and some with resistance to all available drugs. More than 14 million people continue to die each year from infectious diseases, mostly in developing countries where they represent 46% of all deaths.

Microscientist in lab

Micro-scientist in laboratory - Jakarta

To combat infectious diseases effectively in the face of increasing resistance, clinicians and scientists need to improve their understanding of the epidemiology, public health significance, diagnosis, infection control and treatment of infections. The spread of infections in healthcare settings and in the community affects hundreds of millions of patients worldwide and infectious diseases significantly impact on the developmental outcomes for many countries in South and Southeast Asia. Reducing the morbidity and mortality from infectious diseases in our region requires a broad understanding of the factors influencing the prevalence and incidence of these diseases and a comprehensive approach to public health and patient management is required.

Alison Kesson

Prof Kesson - MBI Leader, Laboratory Capacity Building Committee

The Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity brings together researchers, educators and professionals from across a wide range of disciplines with an interest in infectious diseases, their prevention, diagnosis and treatment. This innovative approach to tackling infections in developing countries is done in collaboration with the Office for Global Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney.

Australia Award Fellowships

The Australian Government funds the Australia Award Fellowships, which aim to develop leadership, address priority regional development issues, and build partnerships and links between Australian organisations and their partner organisations in developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East. Members of MBI have mentored a number of fellows from countries including Timor Leste, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia in healthcare leadership and an intensive programme in HIV. Fellows return to their countries of origin at the end of the Fellowship and continue to receive guidance from their MBI mentors in the implementation of new programmes and policies.

MBI is developing a six-week course, which covers many aspects of infectious diseases and microbiology including epidemiology, public health, medical microbiology, infection control, antimicrobial stewardship, laboratory quality and technical management as well as leadership and management skills to deliver to Australia Award Fellows. Fellows will be supplied with the knowledge and tools in these areas as well as mentorship and guidance to address a particular infectious disease problem within their home setting.

Global and Regional Capacity Building

Members of MBI also work with partners in countries in South-East Asia to improve laboratory testing, infection control and the treatment of communicable diseases. MBI uses part of its funding to bring key laboratory leaders and scientists to Sydney to teach them new laboratory techniques that can be implemented back home. MBI has been working with the World Health Organization to develop a laboratory leadership programme that will be rolled out to public health laboratory directors globally to strengthen countries’ responses to the new International Health Regulations.

We also work with partners in China, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Thailand, Vietnam, South America and Uganda and are developing partnerships with Singapore and Malaysia.

Other partnerships include the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUATLD), the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). Please view our partnerships page.

Pacific OR Course

A/Prof Ben Marais (back row - middle) attending the Pacific OR Course in Sept 2012, building on MBI's involvement in public health efforts within the Pacific

Developing the cocoa value chain in Bougainville

cocoa pods

Cocoa pods

Cocoa production directly supports about two-thirds of the population in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (ARoB). Arising from the post-conflict environment, many cocoa farming communities in Bougainville have formed themselves into cohesive communities with clear goals and objectives. These communities have specifically requested assistance to better their circumstances in the major areas impacting their lives - profitable crops and better access to healthcare.

With advances in technology and communication networks there is an opportunity to address these problems decisively - with potential for greater engagement with women and youth, fostering entrepreneurship, addressing limited capital availability, and understanding how malnutrition and ill health compound labour shortages.

Within the broader development goal of contributing to the sustainable and socially equitable economic development of Bougainville, the specific aim of this proposal is to improve the profitability and vitality of smallholder cocoa farming families and communities.

This project is led by Professor David Guest, University of Sydney

Contact Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research for more information