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Health research should be a government priority – poll

Three-quarters of New Zealanders believe more funding for health and medical research should be a government priority and that the government should invest more funding in health research, according to a survey just released.

The poll of more than 500 Kiwis was conducted by Roy Morgan Research for a national health umbrella organisation, New Zealanders for Health Research (NZHR).

Improving hospitals and the health care system was the most important issue for the government to focus on, the survey found.

NZHR chief executive Chris Higgins says Kiwis surveyed placed the highest priority on research to make the health system more effective and efficient, to address antibiotic resistance to infectious diseases, and to find ways to prevent illness and promote good health.

NZHR has decided to focus on allocations which have to be spent exclusively on health research. The amount budgeted for this year is $125 million, which is only 0.74% of health care costs.

NZHR believes that the government should be adopting a 10-year investment target of 2.4 percent of health care costs. This means that next year the government’s allocation should increase to $146 million. The government has budgeted $135 million, a shortfall of $11 million. Three quarters of New Zealanders said in the survey that the government should invest more funding in health research and such a target therefore is likely to have wide electoral support,” Higgins says.

“A total of 82 percent said that pharmaceutical companies should invest more in health research, and 83 percent expressed willingness to participate in any clinical trial of a new medicine if they had a condition it might be able to treat. 66 percent agreed that there should be more opportunities for New Zealanders to participate in clinical trials, with 62% agreeing that this is as important as giving blood.

“There’s a real need for New Zealand to be more supportive of clinical trials. It would help a lot if the government were to send a clear signal to all DHBs and PHOs that they will be accountable for undertaking and supporting health research to improve patient care.

“We found that 32 percent of Kiwis donate to health research, compared to 44% last year. The main contributors to this change were declining affordability and increased numbers who said they didn’t know who to donate to or who hadn’t been asked.”

NZHR is chaired by Graham Malaghan, of the Wellington-based Malaghan Institute of Medical Research.



Health research should be a government priority – poll

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