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Medical Research Spared in Federal Budget

By Jane Hall

Medical research funding has been saved: now we need to spend wisely.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

The NHMRC budget has escaped the threatened $400 million cut in the 2011 Federal Government budget. Instead, the 4% annual increase it has received in recent years will continue for another year.

The Government also announced a strategic review of federal funding for medical research. This provides the perfect juncture to reconsider the priorities of the research budget to ensure our health as well as our healthcare system remain viable.

Current spending
Australia spends over $100 billion on health care annually, which is about 9% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The government is currently implementing major reforms across the healthcare system to make it more efficient.

It’s crucial that these reforms ensure better value for money, and establish a sustainable foundation for the future.

This means we need research into the health system and the effects of system-wide policies – what the World Health Organisation (WHO) calls the “brains of the health system.”

Medical research, it is often claimed, will not only deliver breakthroughs in treatment and cure, it will generate long-term savings for the health sector.

But, on the whole, new advances in medicine cost the country more, not less. According to a recent Productivity Commission report, “technological advances” have been responsible for over a third of...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Jane Hall is Professor of Health Economics and Director, Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation at University of Technology, Sydney. This article is reproduced from The Conversation.