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WIRF is one of Australia's leading organisations that is dedicated to improving the health of women and infants.

Federal funding boosts national preterm program

Greg-Hunt-(2).jpgNew Federal funding to boost nationwide efforts into preterm birth prevention

The Women & Infants Research Foundation (WIRF) has welcomed the announcement of $13.7 million in Federal Government funding to bolster its ongoing efforts to lower the rate of preterm birth across Australia.

In making the announcement, Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Greg Hunt, said the Government was committed to improving health services around Australia for all women and girls, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“As part of this significant investment, $13.7 million will help to reduce the rate of preterm births in Australia, which affect 8% of births in Australia and up to 16% among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women,” Minister Hunt said.

The funding will support a national education and outreach program to safely lower rates of preterm birth through the Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance which is managed by WIRF.

Chair of the Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance and WIRF Chief Scientific Director, Professor John Newnham AM, said discovering how to lower the rate of early birth needs to be one of our highest priorities in contemporary healthcare. 

“Being born too early is the single greatest cause of death in young children in Australia and all similar societies,” Prof Newnham said.

“It remains one of the major causes of disability, both in childhood and adulthood. These disabilities include cerebral palsy, deafness, blindness and learning and behavioural problems.”

In June 2018, the Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance was established. The framework, the key practice points, and public health campaign now used with great effect by the Alliance, was first developed in Western Australia as part of WIRF’s WA Preterm Birth Prevention Initiative. 

Results from the first year of this program revealed a reduction in the rate of preterm birth across WA by 8% and by 20 per cent in the major tertiary level centre.

WIRF Chief Executive, Deb Portughes, said today’s funding announcement highlighted the Australian Government’s commitment to preventing preterm birth.

“This is a vital sign of support for research and education to improve the developmental outcomes and safety outcomes for the most vulnerable Australians,” she said.

“The incredible work of Professor John Newnham, and the other clinical leaders and researchers involved with the Alliance, is poised to transform practice and save untold heartache for Australian families.

“To see a WA program now inform the national approach to preterm birth prevention is a source of great pride to everyone at WIRF, our supporters, and all Western Australians.”

The funding announcement is part of a broader investment by the Federal Government of $354 million over the next four years to support women’s health, including funding for cervical and breast cancer, endometriosis and reproductive health.


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Women and Infants Research Foundation
Carson House, King Edward Memorial Hospital
374 Bagot Road, Subiaco, WA 6008

Telephone: 08 6458 1437
Fax: 08 6458 1642
Email: info@wirf.com.au

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