Reform medical research to stem rising health costs: AAMRI

Reform medical research to stem rising health costs: AAMRI

31st March, 2012

A new model for a healthy Australia

Australia’s peak body for medical research institutes has proposed a massive overhaul of the health and medical research sector to increase the emphasis on the health issues facing Australia and stem the country’s ballooning health costs.

Professor Julie Campbell, President of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI) said that better research today would minimise the cost of healthcare tomorrow.

“We will not move ahead by holding on to what has worked in the past. The world is at the beginning of a new era of treatments, diagnostics and prevention strategies that couldn’t have been imagined 30 years ago. We need to make sure Australia continues to be at the forefront,” she said.

Commenting on AAMRI’s submission to the Federal Government’s Strategic Review of Health and Medical Research, Professor Campbell said reform of the Australian health and medical research sector was needed to better target the nation’s health priorities such as diabetes and mental health.

“We need to do more to ensure research is embedded into our health care system, driving improvements in services, delivering a more efficient, cost-effective health system and a healthier community.”

In its submission, 2020: A Healthy Australia, AAMRI proposes an ‘optimal model’ for the sector, including reforms designed to ensure research funding is spent more effectively. Recommended initiatives include:

  • Creating a new Health Research and Implementation Council to fund, coordinate and oversee research in priority health areas and embed research outcomes in Australia’s health care system
  • Reframing and refocussing the existing National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) on ‘investigator-driven’ basic and discovery research, with a new streamlined system of 5-year ‘investigator-based’ grants
  • Transforming the resource base for Australian health and medical research by creating an Australian Health Research Charitable Trust
  • Providing full government funding for the indirect costs of research for all research organisations, including independent medical research institutes
  • Supporting innovative ‘blue sky’ research through a program of Iconic Centre Grants to be awarded competitively to campuses and organisations of sufficient scale and impact to compete globally.