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Australia’s de-emphasis on Pacific health a mistake: Aid group

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison arriving for the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu. Photo: AFP via Australian Prime Minister’s Office/Adam Taylor. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

Pan Pacific Agency | COMMUICATION AGENCY FOR PACIFICA REGIONS

CANBERRA, Feb 20, 2020, RNZ. An aid group is describing the Australian government’s change of focus on Pacific aid as a “strategic misstep”. Australia is spending more on foreign aid to the Pacific, providing about $AUD1.4 billion in the 2019-2020 year, as part of its so-called ‘Pacific Step Up’, Radio New Zealand reported.

But that aid spend has seen a move towards infrastructure spending with less going to health.

The director of policy and advocacy at the Australian Council for International Development, Bridi Rice, said that the cutback in health programmes came amid struggles with measles, polio and drug resistant tuberculosis in the region.

“The links between health and poverty reduction are well known, and the links between poverty reduction and regional stability are really clear.

“So, we think it is nothing short of a strategic misstep to be reducing health and core development spending on education as well, at this time.”

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