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11 July 2016

A coalition of experts on tropical infectious diseases led by University of Otago’s Professor John Crump, Co-Director of the Centre for International Health, has secured about $450,000 (NZD) to study causes of fever and how patients with fever are managed in Myanmar (formerly Burma) and the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (Lao PDR).

The New Zealand research team includes Professor David Murdoch from the Department of Pathology, University of Otago Christchurch, and Dr James Ussher from the University’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

The HRC is funding the project through the e-ASIA Joint Research Program (e-ASIA JRP).

The e-ASIA JRP is a coalition of national research funding institutions from 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries and eight East Asia Summit participating countries, including New Zealand. Projects are required to be multilateral and to promote collaboration, innovation, and support economic development in the East Asian Region.

“New Zealand’s health research investment has traditionally been intensely focused on domestic health concerns,” says Professor Crump.

“However, in a highly interconnected world infectious disease problems are easily spread from one place to another. International collaboration is essential to find solutions to these threats.

“It is gratifying that the HRC has joined the e-ASIA JRP to help tackle infectious diseases problems of joint interest with our neighbours. We hope that this small step leads to growing opportunities for New Zealand health experts to collaborate on research of relevance to development and global health security.”

HRC Chief Executive Professor Kath McPherson says the e-ASIA program provides a significant opportunity to engage with Asia through joint international projects.

"Our involvement in this program will enable New Zealand researchers to collaborate with international research teams to the mutual benefit of the countries involved," says Professor McPherson.

The project brings world-leading infectious diseases expertise to bear on the problem of fever, a common reason to seek health care in both Myanmar and the Lao PDR.

The researchers will study treatable and preventable causes of fever in Myanmar, identifying ways to improve fever management in both Myanmar and Lao PDR.