Medical researchers align against funding cuts
Fears that the Australian Government is planning to cut $400 million from National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) budget over three years have resulted in an open letter from research groups calling for funding to be maintained and a review of health and medical research to be undertaken.
Signed by the heads of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes, the Committee of the Group of Eight Medical Deans, the Federation of Australian Science and Technological Societies, AusBiotech, Research Australia and Medicines Australia, the letter was sent to all Members and Senators of the Australian Parliament.
Professor Julie Campbell, AAMRI President said the letter highlights that both 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.
The letter calls on Government to undertake an immediate and comprehensive review of health and medical research in Australia, with the findings forming the framework for a 10-year strategic plan.
“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 parth for health and medical research until 2010. 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 governments in supporting medical research
- workforce and training needs of the sector;
- commercialisation outcomes, barriers and future needs; and
- current philanthropic investment, barriers and new mechanisms to increase philanthropic support.
“The outcomes of this review would form the framework for a 10-year strategic plan for health and medical research in Australia.”
The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne has responded to the possible funding cuts by launching a “Discoveries need Dollars” campaign and website (www.discoveriesneeddollars.org).
Research Australia is calling for signatories to its petition to the Federal Government at http://researchaustralia.org/policy-advocacy/petition-to-federal-government.html.
So far, the Government has neither confirmed nor denied the possibility of cuts to NHMRC funding in the forthcoming 2011-12 Budget.