Infectious diseases cause significant suffering and death throughout the world. Fortunately, with early diagnosis, appropriate management and good hygiene practices, infectious diseases are also readily treatable. The issue is that these practices require highly skilled staff and access to basic resources, both of which are under developed in the majority of Pacific island countries. The recent emergence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) throughout the world has made the skilled management of infectious disease even more crucial. Notably, the World Health Organisation has named AMR as a major threat to global health. In the Pacific region AMR is widespread, however, we are currently unable to accurately determine its extent due to the inability to attain reliable laboratory information.
In 2017 Pacific Region Infectious Disease Association (PRIDA) was formally established by a group of like-minded Australian healthcare professionals who had been individually supporting our Pacific island neighbours over a number of years. The infectious disease group consists a broad range of expertise including physicians, nurses, biomedical scientists and pharmacists. As a multidisciplinary team, we provide training at a grass roots level, foster long-term mentoring relationships to support practical and sustainable capacity of infectious disease management in-country. To date we have ongoing projects in the Solomon Islands, PNG, and East Timor as well as close associations with Samoa, Vanuatu, and Marshall Islands.
To support microbiology laboratories in the Pacific, we undertake repeated regular short term in country visits. We work closely with laboratory scientists offering one-on-one training bench training and small group teaching. We collectively identify issues and collaborate to develop the necessary guidelines and protocols to implement best practice. We facilitate donations of basic essential laboratory equipment to ensure appropriate implementation, use and care.
In this lecture, we will present how PRIDA has leveraged the use of microbiology to provide critically needed humanitarian and development solutions in the Pacific region.