Today I joined Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Affairs Karunanayake to announce the Australian Government will provide life-saving support through the World Health Organization (WHO) to help combat a severe dengue outbreak in Sri Lanka.

Dengue is an insidious virus that emerges quickly when the conditions are right and in its severe form, it can be fatal. According to WHO, 50 to 100 million infections occur each year in over 100 countries – putting almost half the world's population at risk.

This year Sri Lanka has been hard hit by dengue, with over 90,000 cases reported. Tragically, more than 245 people have died.

Australia's $500,000 contribution to WHO will support the implementation of a comprehensive Dengue Prevention and Control Plan to enhance hospital triage and case management, cleaning, public awareness and surveillance systems.

I also launched the Australian Government's partnership between Monash University's Eliminate Dengue Program and Sri Lanka's Ministry of Health to reduce the incidence of dengue in Sri Lanka.

Monash University's Eliminate Dengue Program is pioneering the use of the Wolbachia bacteria to reduce rates of dengue infection.  Wolbachia prevents the dengue virus being transmitted between people, and it has a similar effect on other viruses such as zika, chikungunya and yellow fever.

The Australian Government's $1 million contribution to the Eliminate Dengue Program in Sri Lanka was brokered by the innovationXchange, established within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to improve the effectiveness and impact of the Australian aid program.

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