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What’s the fuss about the medical research future fund?

The question “What’s the fuss?” will ring out around Australia in weeks to come thanks to today’s launch of a new community-led campaign to promote the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) and the importance of health and medical research to our future.
The television and online campaign features Carrie Bickmore, Ita Buttrose, Natasha Stott Despoja, and former Australians of the Year Sir Gustav Nossal, Professor Patrick McGorry and Simon McKeon, along with other community and business leaders, patients, and medical researchers from around Australia. They are all explaining “What’s the fuss?” about conditions such as dementia, cancer, heart disease, and mental illness.
Medical Research Future Fund Action Group Chair, Peter Scott, said these conditions and many more are worthy of a fuss being made.
“As the television commercial says, the fuss is that Australian health and medical research provides hope for new discoveries leading to better diagnostics, treatments and potentially cures for these conditions and many more,” Scott said.
“The MRFF is the substantial investment in health and medical research that Australia needs, and we are grateful that it is receiving the fuss it deserves thanks to many high profile people being very generous with their time in filming with us, simply because they care so much about improved funding for medical research.
“As a perpetual endowment fund, the MRFF will lead to many more medical discoveries and help us make our health system more effective and efficient by doubling the Australian Government’s annual outlays for health and medical research.
“The fuss is for all of us, for our future, and for the important role the MRFF will play in that.”
Scott encouraged people to share their stories about the need for medical research through the What’s the fuss? website.
“Every day we hear stories about people suffering or dying prematurely with medical conditions that should be preventable or curable if we invest the money to conduct the necessary research.”
“We want our website to become a home for people to share stories about themselves and their loved ones, be they stories about how medical research has touched their lives, or stories about medical conditions where more research can make a difference.
“The economic arguments for health and medical research are abundant and compelling – whether you’re talking savings to our healthcare system or growing innovative industries and providing highly skilled jobs for Australians. But beyond economics, there are the people afflicted by disability and disease and their loved ones, such as our group’s founding chairman, Alastair Lucas, who died of brain cancer recently. For all of us, there is that priceless intangible that medical research provides: hope. Hope for a treatment and for a cure.

The What’s the fuss? campaign is coordinated by the Medical Research Future Fund Action Group, an alliance of peak bodies representing health and medical researchers and patient groups, along with community and business leaders who support health and medical research.

• Almost half of all Australians live with a chronic illness. [Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW)]
• More than half of potentially preventable hospitalisations arise from chronic conditions. [AIHW]
• More than 1,800 Australians a week are diagnosed with dementia, with this number predicted to rise significantly in coming years as our population ages. [Alzheimer’s Australia]
• More than 1,000 Australians each week have a stroke, and stroke is one of the leading causes of disability in Australia. In 2012, the total financial cost of stroke in Australia was estimated to be $5 billion. [Stroke Foundation]
• Heart disease kills more people than all cancers combined, and is the leading killer of Australians. [Victor Chang]
• Australian Government health expenditure per person is projected to more than double over the next 40 years, from $2,800 to $6,500 (in today’s dollars). That is equivalent to a total health cost of $255 billion (in today’s dollars) in 2054-55. [Treasury]
• Every dollar invested in Australian health and medical research returns on average $2.17 in health benefits. [Access Economics, ASMR]
• Investment in health and medical research by the National Health and Medical Research Council (the main source of Government funding for health and medical research) between 2000-2010 is estimated to have saved $966 million in costs to the health system, with a further $6 billion in projected gains linked to increased well-being. [Deloitte Access Economics, ASMR]

• The MRFF was legislated on 13 August 2015. [MRFF Bill 2015]
• The MRFF is a protected, perpetual fund.
• Earnings from investing the MRFF’s protected capital will be used towards health & medical research and medical innovation. This will be in addition to the approximate $800 million in annual funding for health and medical research currently provided through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
• The MRFF is slated to build to $20 billion by 2020, at which point, it will deliver an extra $1 billion in annual funding to medical research and innovation. [2015-16 Federal Budget papers]
• At present, the MRFF holds just $1 billion, the earnings from which are expected to deliver $10 million in additional medical research and innovation funding this financial year. The MRFF is expected to deliver around $400 million over the following three years, as the fund’s capital builds over time and so too does its earning potential. [2015-16 Federal Budget papers]
• Without the MRFF, the Australian Government invests 0.075 per cent of GDP in health and medical research, just 64 per cent of the OECD average, putting Australia behind countries such as Canada, the UK and South Korea. [OECD]
• Research Australia polling has found 73 per cent of Australians support increased government investment in health and medical research. [Research Australia]