Asia Pacific women researchers in mosquito-borne diseases build collaborative network

• Our region at risk of mosquito-borne disease epidemics as climate changes
• Australian government -funded fellowship for 10 women from seven Asia Pacific countries who are scientists, clinicians or public health managers to make up a collaborative scientific workforce.

Ten women scientists, clinicians and public health managers from the Asia Pacific recently took part in a QUT-hosted, two-week Australia Awards Fellowship with the aim of building a collaborative network of researchers in transmission of mosquito-borne viruses.
The Australian government-funded fellowship was initiated by QUT Associate Professor Francesca Frentiu, from the School of Biomedical Sciences, who said tropical mosquito-borne viruses cause epidemics in the Asia Pacific.
“Viruses such as dengue, Japanese encephalitis, Zika and chikungunya have enormous detrimental effects on public health and economic development,” Professor Frentiu said.
“The disease burden of these viruses is predicted to increase as climate change accelerates. Addressing this public health challenge in our region requires a highly skilled and collaborative scientific workforce. The Fellowship is designed to create a collaborative network of women researchers and health professionals from the Asia-Pacific to work on joint solutions to the looming public health threat.”
“Building sustainable people-to-people links is critical to keeping lines of communication open during trans-border health crises, such as pandemics.”
Participants come from New Caledonia (Dr Olivia O’Connor and Dr Myrielle Dupont), Indonesia (Dr Marsha Santoso and Frilasita Aisyah), Vietnam (Dr Tran Thi Hai Ninh and Dr Nguyen Thi Thuy), Philippines (Dr Ann Belvis and Prof Frances Edillo), Vanuatu (Joanne Mariasua) and Sri Lanka (Dr R.D.J Harishchandra).
“Each Fellow brings a unique and highly valuable perspective as to the research needs, challenges and priorities in their country,” Professor Frentiu said.
“We will identify research areas for our region that are critical to preparing for and mitigating the impact of climate change on public health and share scientific skills which the participants will amplify through presentations in their home institutions.”
“A further aim is a focus on gender equity to enhance the research capacity, professional development and leadership opportunities of women working in the field of tropical mosquito-borne viruses. Women sometimes have fewer opportunities to engage in scientific research that leads to authorship on publications, as they are often placed in supporting rather than leadership roles on projects and in organisations.”

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