In the immediate-term, COVID-19 has the potential to overwhelm health systems. But this may only be the beginning. The World Bank estimates that remittance flows—since 2019 the largest source of capital inflows to low and middle-income countries—will drop by around 20 percent, or $100 billion dollars,
Australia has responded swiftly to COVID-19 in the Pacific and Timor-Leste by supporting national and regional health measures. The continent has deployed health experts, including the World Health Organization regional office in Fiji and the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health. They have provided personal protective equipment and medical supplies to 23 countries and territories, established an isolation center in Timor-Leste, and provided rapid financial support to Pacific island governments to maintain essential services.
Australia worked with partner governments to help contain the spread of the virus, conduct public health awareness campaigns, support local health systems with equipment and training, and facilitate the supply of essential goods. They have supported water and sanitation and hygiene services and increased community awareness to control the spread of infection.
They recognized the critical importance of an effective vaccine, therapeutics, and diagnostics for COVID-19. Australia’s world-leading scientists and medical research institutions are deeply engaged in global efforts to find a vaccine.
It is equally critical that all countries are able to access a vaccine when, or if, it becomes available they will work with Australian and international partners, like GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, to ensure equity in access.
Australia will support policy-making that promotes economic response and recovery efforts, private sector resilience, open markets and supply chains, improved livelihoods, and inclusive growth. They will assist efforts to manage COVID-19’s economic impact on long-term poverty reduction and sustainable growth.
Support to Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia sits at the heart of the Indo-Pacific. Its health security and economic recovery directly affect our own. They have common interests with Southeast Asian countries in building a region that is stable, prosperous, and resilient. Southeast Asian countries have grown strongly over recent years. But COVID-19 has shown that they remain highly vulnerable to shocks. The informal economy accounts for around 78 percent of employment in Southeast Asia. Australia will work with partners in Southeast Asia to maximize the effectiveness of their own national resource mobilization efforts, supplemented by multilateral and private sector assistance. In Southeast Asia, they will prioritize areas where we can make the most difference and catalyze change. This will include providing technical advice on managing the health and economic impacts of the pandemic, such as the design of stimulus measures and implementation of social protection initiatives, as well as infrastructure programs that will assist in economic recovery.
In addition to these, there will be many advancements to assist and open up the economy.