Government must boost research efforts: AMA (WA)

Government must boost research efforts: AMA (WA)


Tuesday 15 May 2012

The Western Australian Government should provide $40 million a year funding for health and medical
research in order to stop the intellectual wealth of the state wasting away, the Australian Medical
Association (WA) said today.

 

Delivering a new report into medical research to the State Government and Opposition, the AMA (WA) said
it was time that urgent steps were taken to stop the brain-drain of skilled and experienced researchers
from WA.

 

“The lack of money for medical research in WA has reached a seriously low level and is having a major
negative impact on WA’s health, medical research and economic development,” AMA (WA) President
Associate Professor David Mountain said.

 

The Business Case for WA Health and Research Funding, written by respected economic researchers The
Paxon Group, argues that in comparison to the rest of Australia, research in Western Australia suffers from
a dramatic funding shortfall.

 

The report recommends that the State Government pledge to provide $40 million a year in research
funding. This funding would, in turn, attract investment from public and private companies along with high-
net worth individuals, and would generate a substantial income each year to provide research funding on a
wide range of health and medical issues.

 

“We have a chance to future proof the intellectual wealth of our state.” A/Prof Mountain said.

 

“Forty million dollars a year might seem quite a large amount to allocate, but it would have a major
positive impact on not just the scientific and health community but also the wider economy.”

 

“Researchers don’t grow on trees and can’t be mined. They need to be nurtured and encouraged and now
is the time to show vision and regrow our research capacity,” he said.

 

“We are a state blessed with many natural wonders and resources. Among those great resources have
been stellar researchers who have changed many lives for the better, generated huge health returns and
economic gains.”

 

“Unfortunately over many years, many governments have abysmally neglected health research in WA,” he
said.

 

To just reach the average for the country would mean $47 million dollars a year of additional public funding
would be required.

 

The Paxon Group report on the proposal confirms the major impact of research funding, A/Prof Mountain
said, both in medicine and in the wider community.

 

“Research is something that WA should not be neglecting and results in a boost to the economy, to
education, leads to decreased costs of health care, a more productive workforce and enables valuable staff
to be attracted from other states and countries.”

 

“We should be proud of research and proud of our international quality researchers. We are an isolated
city and state and we should be doing all we can to promote our future generations of researchers,” A/Prof
Mountain said.

 

On a per capita basis of research funding provided by the Federal Government, WA is ranked below every
state or territory except Tasmania.

 

“With the WA economy showing strong growth, it is a sad reflection on WA that the WA per capita share of
NHMRC funding is just $15.90, compared to $54.60 in Victoria and even $36.20 per capita in South
Australia,” A/Prof Mountain said.

 

“It is time for the WA government to put aside some of the wealth from the mining boom into funding that
will offer WA researchers the money to stay in WA and stop the brain drain that we have seen in recent
years,” he said.

 

“WA has a strong record in producing world leading research, including Nobel Prize Winners. For this to
continue however, we need to ensure that funding is available for young researchers to be competitive in
Western Australia so they can remain in WA.”

 

The AMA (WA) said it would continue on its campaign to seek additional funding for research in the run up
to the next State election.

 

“We will continue to push for the essential additional funding that is vital for the future health and wealth
of all Western Australians,” he said.

 

The Paxon report can be found here.

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