Global health news round-up: NZ’s mental health knowledge-sharing network, Chile vaccinates Antarctica

If you’re keeping up with UK health news, you’ll already know all about England’s vaccine delays, results from the annual NHS survey, and Wales’ health and care academies.

But what’s going on elsewhere? Here’s our latest international news round-up from another busy week in healthcare across the globe.

In New Zealand, the government has established a ‘knowledge-sharing network’ for mental health and addiction services. The aim is to improve wellbeing through the network, called Te Whāriki o te Ara Oranga, by encouraging collaboration, connecting leaders and influencers across the mental wellbeing system and enabling the sharing of innovation, resources and best practice. So far, more than 200 people have signed up. (New Zealand’s Ministry of Health)

Canada’s government has announced investment in new COVID-19 research projects throughout the country.

Canada’s Minister of Health, Honourable Patty Hajdu, revealed that approximately C$25.2 million would be used to boost 52 research projects. Study topics and priority areas include virus variants, vaccine development and uptake, testing, mental health and pandemic impacts on ‘women, racialized populations, and Métis, Inuit and First Nations Peoples’. The funding is being provided through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. (Government of Canada)

In Singapore, as of 18 March, the Ministry of Health had reported no new cases of locally transmitted COVID-19 infection for six days. The nation continues its vaccine roll-out with seven new vaccination centres set to commence operations from 17 March and the aim to have 40 centres across the island by mid-April. Four of the new seven hubs are expected to offer the Moderna vaccine. (Ministry of Health, Singapore)

Chile’s swift vaccination roll-out, meanwhile, has now reached Antartica, according to Reuters. ‘The frozen continent’ was reportedly the world’s last to report an outbreak of COVID-19, back in December 2020 – but now air force staff and research personnel at the Profesor Julio Escudero base have received inoculations. There had previously been concerns over the ability to transport sick patients from the remote region. (Reuters)

Over in Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that an investment of over (AUS) $1.1 billion would be made to extend the country’s COVID-19 health response and suppression strategy. More than $22 billion has reportedly been spent so far, including around $6 billion on the vaccine roll-out.

The new investment will extend support in areas such as telehealth care, testing and tracing, GP-led Respiratory Clinics, electronic prescription services, home medicine delivery services and mental health. (Prime Minister of Australia)

Finally, in South Korea, Britain has formally protested about mandatory coronavirus testing of foreigners in some regions, according to Reuters. Rules in areas such as the capital, Seoul, has meant workers from other nations may have been ‘singled out’, as some local governments have ordered all non-nationals to be tested. (Reuters)