Media release: Investment in health research too low – poll

04 November 2019

Three quarters of New Zealanders believe that the government’s $125m budget for health and medical research – which was 0.75% of health care costs – is too low, according to the latest New Zealanders for Health Research (NZHR) opinion poll.

The poll of more than 500 Kiwis was conducted in early May 2019 by Roy Morgan for NZHR – New Zealand’s peak body representing the entire health and medical research pipeline.

“NZHR has recommended that the government adopts a 10-year investment target of 2.4 percent of health care costs. Although the allocation had increased to $143 million in the 2019/20 budget, this still represented only 0.78% of health care costs” said NZHR Chief Executive Chris Higgins

“In any case, the 2019/20 budget stipulates no further increases for the next four years, and we’re forecasting that the level of investment will fall to 0.6% by 2025. This is very disappointing and flies in the face of the government’s own overall R&D ten-year target of 2.0%” said Higgins. “It means that New Zealanders stand to miss out on opportunities to benefit from the best possible healthcare”

“With a general election set to take place in 2020 this would be a good time for all political parties to take notice of the poll results and ensure that their election manifestos include real commitments to increasing public health R&D investment”

In other poll results 85% said that it was important to do research into antibiotic resistance to infectious diseases, and 83% said it was important to do research to make our health system more effective and efficient.

Although only 43% said that they were well informed about health and medical research in New Zealand, over 90% agreed that vaccinations, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, regular exercise and cutting down on sugary food and drinks were safe and effective ways of keeping healthy.

A total of 88 percent said that pharmaceutical companies should invest more in health research, and 87 percent expressed willingness to participate in a clinical trial of a new medicine if they had a condition it might be able to treat. 71 percent agreed that there should be more opportunities for New Zealanders to participate in clinical trials, with 67% agreeing that this is as important as giving blood.

NZHR is chaired by Graham Malaghan, of the Wellington-based Malaghan Institute of Medical Research and is supported by universities, clinical research organisations, and organisations representing both the philanthropic and pharmaceutical industry sectors.

For further information and a copy of the full poll report contact NZHR chief executive Chris Higgins on 027 2928433 or [email protected].nz. A summary of the poll report is at https://www.nz4healthresearch.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/NZHR-Report-2019-GENERAL-EDITION.pdf

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