Budget 2021: Health Research Funding Fails the Team of Five Million

health research

“New Zealanders have been badly let down by Budget 2021’s diminishing support for health research,” according to New Zealanders for Health Research (NZHR) Chief Executive Chris Higgins.

“$117.5m has been allocated for health research, compared to the estimated expenditure of $130.6m for 2020. This means that direct government investment in health research has fallen from a meagre 0.64% of direct health care costs to an appalling 0.57 percent” said Higgins.

“Given that New Zealanders have seen the life-saving value of health research in the country’s science-led response to the Covid 19 pandemic, it beggars belief that the government has chosen to reduce its health research allocation in its latest purportedly “wellbeing” budget."

“The health system needs to be informed by the results of health research now more than it ever did.

“It’s difficult to see how the imminent health reforms will be successful in saving lives and improving health outcomes without properly funded health research being firmly embedded within the health system to ensure a best practice approach to staying well, and to be treated if and when we become sick.

“76 percent of respondents in NZHR’s 2020 Kantar opinion poll agreed that the government should invest more funding in health research, and 57 percent specifically said that the 2020 allocation was too low," Higgins said.

“The 2021 allocation flies in the face of public expectations, and NZHR itself has repeatedly presented the case for increasing the allocation to 2.4 percent of health care costs over ten years.”

​​​​“Given that the government commissioned April 2021 Productivity Commission “Frontier Firms” report recommends that the Government should use its intended major health system reform to improve the mandate, funding and incentives for 'DHBs to participate in the healthtech innovation ecosystem', we’re struggling to understand the logic of allocating funds to initiate the health reform process while at the same time starving the system of the health research investment which will be key to making the reforms work,” said Higgins.