But for the purposes of this blog I will focus on Australia and to narrow it down a little further, the field of medical research. Now, Australia has an issue. There are far more research projects than dollars which means that either some research simply does not get realised or the projects are scaled back to fit in with there available budget. Neither is ideal and both happen with all too much regularity.
But the question then becomes who decides who gets funding and who doesn't. In Australia this comes down to four main groups:-
- Governments - The main source of medical research funding in Australia, both at federal and state level. The main body is the Nation Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
- Private donors - Although charitable donations are plentiful, In order to be able to make a choice as to whether a research project happens or not, the donation has to be quite sizeable.
- Charities - Certain charities sponsor medical research and collate smaller donations to distribute them into something more meaningful.
- Corporate - Will invest heavily in research but only if there is a buck to be made. For example, big pharma.
One important group missing from this list is patients. In other countries patients can fund their own treatment but not in Australia. But this is a post for another time. At the end of the day, the biggest contributor is the government, followed by charities. The other two are also very hard to influence as they are autonomous in their decision making.
The next question is how does this money get allocated? Well, the short answer is badly and I'm going to go back to the example of HSCT on this one. Certain charitable organisations who are allegedly an authority in this area have stated that they are not interested in funding HSCT for multiple sclerosis and autoimmune diseases until stage 3 trials have been completed overseas.
WHAT!!!!!! According to the Oxford English dictionary the definition of research is "The systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions". If you are simply going to follow in the footsteps of someone else work and do exactly what has already been done you are not going to establish facts because these facts have already been established. You are not going to reach new conclusions because these conclusions have already been reached. Essentially this is not research, this is redo.
In the meantime, while we wait for the trials to be conducted overseas and then conduct our own research, sorry redo, which is at least a three to five year wait, Australians are dying and suffering.
In my next post I'll give you some insights into why we do it this way and more importantly, what we can do to make it better. Until then, stay well:)