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Why Australia needs a Medical Research Future Fund

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While Australia already conducts world-class research, future global leadership requires a major funding investment

The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) announced as part of the 2014–15 federal Budget1 will be an integral factor in Australia’s ability to continue delivering among the best health and medical research in the world. If we look beyond the political rhetoric and debate, the MRFF offers substantial value to Australia. Yet very few commentators, including those in the medical and health sectors, have acknowledged this to the degree it deserves.

Presently the Australian Government spends 0.075% of gross domestic product on health and medical research — only 64% of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of 0.118%.2 The MRFF, as proposed, will build to a $20 billion perpetual fund over the next decade, ultimately providing $1 billion in funding annually for health and medical research. It is vital that this size and pace of funding be achieved to bring Australia back to an internationally comparable level of government research support.

Benefits of research to health care

There is international evidence that hospitals and health care facilities that do research deliver higher-quality care, have better patient outcomes and are more efficient. In its 2009 final report, A healthier…