29 March 2011
An open letter to Members and Senators of the Australian Parliament.
Investing in health and medical research delivers positive economic, social and health outcomes. Australian medical innovations have not only saved lives, but have reduced healthcare costs, attracted international investment and built new industries.
The escalating cost of healthcare, through increasing incidence of chronic disease and the ageing population, will continue to place extreme pressure on the economy, community and Federal and State Government budgets.
It is therefore crucial that the Australian Government at least maintains current levels of funding for medical research in the May budget.
This will help secure:
- Health gains through advancing and applying medical discoveries and innovation.
- Wealth gains through more efficient healthcare delivery and therapeutic developments.
- Jobs, productivity and Australia's world-class expertise in biomedical and clinical research.
In addition, now is the time for a comprehensive review of health and medical research in Australia.
The Australian Government has embarked on health reform and undertaken a significant review of the health and hospital system. It has reviewed our innovation system and the higher education sector. However, 13 years have passed since the landmark 'Wills' Review' plotted a path for health and medical research until 2000. A review is overdue as much has changed.
Universities, medical research institutes and industry support the call for an immediate review examining:
- the economic and social benefits of medical research;
- the role of government in supporting medical research;
- workforce and training needs of the sector;
- commercialisation outcomes, barriers and future needs;
- philanthropic investment, barriers and new mechanisms to increase philanthrophic support.
The outcomes of this review would form the framework for a 10 year strategic plan for health and medical research in Australia.
Continued public investment in medical research and a long-term vision for the sector are essential for maintaining Australia at the cutting-edge of healthcare innovation and delivery, which ultimately saves lives and money.