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New funding won't save health research

New funding won't save health research

Health research funding problems will continue regardless of the Government's $5.5 million Budget increase in funding, says Dr Paul Hutchison, National's Science and Associate Health spokesperson.

Between 1999 and 2003 the percentage of world-class peer-reviewed applications accepted for funding has gone down from just under 40% to around 15% according to the recently released paper 'The Crisis in New Zealand Health Research', December 2003.

Dr Hutchison says the funding increase alone is not sufficient to keep our best and brightest scientists in New Zealand.

"It was made worse by the full cost of funding requirements, when academic scientists had to take on all overhead costs as universities separated funding from research.

"Labour has identified biotechnology as a key area for economic growth, five years later biotechnology-related health research is suffering badly.

"Though the Budget has given some relief, it in no way meets the long-term needs and assurances that scientists require and will mean 75% of world-class research applications will be rejected by lack of funding.

"The 2004 Biotechnology Taskforce recommended 'immediate action to change regulations that support the sector'; they also recommended tax changes. "But the Government has not responded. By failing to improve the complicated regulatory process, Labour continues to make it difficult for many of our best and brightest scientists, and risks losing them overseas." Dr Hutchison says the Government has poured money into welfare dependency programmes, but has done little to ensure that the fundamental regulatory or tax environments are ideal to attract and retain a significant number of top scientists and investors.

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