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Tourism and medical research: A necessary alliance

On the surface, the world’s of tourism and medical research appear miles apart, but in reality they are bound to each other, to the extent that one may depend on the other for its survival. The recent SARS outbreak, which cost the Asia-Pacific tourism industry an estimated $180 billion in lost revenue, is one example of how disease can endanger not just thousands of lives but can potentially destroy an industry.

Queensland Institute of Medical Research’s (QIMR) Professor Brian Kay is convenor of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Tropical Health Innovation. This forum was held in Cairns from July 8 – 10, uniting leaders in health, biotechnology, biosecurity, information & communication technology to plan health care delivery and develop innovative solutions for economic and health problems in the region for the future.

Professor Kay, also Director of the Australian Centre for International and Tropical Health and Nutrition (ACITHN), said that the Forum was unique in its interdisciplinary approach and the calibre of distinguished speakers from around Australia and the Asia-Pacific. “Rarely has there been an opportunity to unite experts in law, trade, medicine, medical research, security, defence, risk management, marketing, crisis management and biosecurity to formulate strategies that will impact on all who live and work in the Asia-Pacific,” said Professor Kay.

Some of the health-related issues covered by the Forum include: vaccine development, reproductive health, sexually transmitted diseases, communicable disease surveillance, nutrition, Indigenous health, avian flu virus, SARS, travel medicine, marine stinger initiatives, mental health, smoking, vector-borne diseases such as dengue fever and malaria, and health legal issues.