Burnet Institute Director and CEO and the Australian Medical Research Insitutes (AMRI) President, Professor Brendan Crabb writes for The Conversation commenting on the Coalition’s announcement committing to protect health and medical research funding.
It was a big day in political circles yesterday, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard announcing an election date and launching her priorities for the nation. Among the hubbub that followed, an important announcement from the Coalition went virtually unnoticed.
In a joint announcement from the leader of the opposition and the shadow minister for health and ageing, the Coalition made a commitment to protect health and medical research funding, signalling medical research as a key part of their plan to build a strong and prosperous economy.
This is due acknowledgement of the vital role of medical research and is a welcome commitment by the Coalition to the future health and prosperity of all Australians.
Australia gets a big “bang for its buck” from our research spending – strong ongoing investment by successive governments has ensured we punch well above our weight internationally in new discoveries.
This investment delivers a substantial return. Best estimates indicate that every dollar invested in medical research returns over two dollars to the nation in health benefits, through better disease prevention, new treatments and more efficient and effective health services. As a result, Australians are living longer and better.
A firm commitment to medical research not only makes sense for the community, it makes good financial sense for government. If nothing changes, health and aged care-costs are expected to almost double by 2050, increasing from 18.5% of government expenditure to a crippling 33% over this time. Plainly this trend is not sustainable and it must be addressed now if we are to mitigate its impact.
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