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Setting NZ's health research priorities


Monday, 25 June 2018.

Great minds come together to help set New Zealand’s health research priorities

Some of New Zealand’s leading health researchers, innovators, advisors and health delivery experts have been brought together to help establish New Zealand’s first set of national health research priorities.

This independent ‘Development Group’ will assess the input from stakeholders across the health, science and innovation sectors, to help ensure the process of setting priorities is inclusive and serves the needs of New Zealand’s diverse population and communities.

Until now, New Zealand has never had a unified set of health research priorities at a national level, and therefore not seen the full potential of coordinating its research efforts across the sector.

But since the introduction of the New Zealand Health Research Strategy (2017–2027), the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) has been working with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Ministry of Health to ensure health research addresses the needs of all New Zealanders. Key to that success is identifying priorities for government investment to target.

The Steering Group for the Strategy, made up of the three forementioned government organisations and representatives from Callaghan Innovation, Universities NZ and District Health Boards, says the purpose of setting priorities is to gain a shared understanding of where to focus effort and resources, in order to get the greatest benefit and value from New Zealand’s investment in health research.

Over the course of 2018 and 2019, the Development Group will consult widely and develop a broad set of Strategic Investment Areas, which will be announced in early 2019 and are expected to guide investment activity through to 2027. The Group will continue to refine the priorities, working closely with experts to agree shorter-term research objectives, which will be announced by the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation and the Minister of Health at the end of 2019.

The Group’s members have been selected for their mana, knowledge, expertise in health services or research and different world views and experience, as well as their ability to think strategically for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

The group comprises 13 people, representing a wide range of experience:

Fepulea'i Margie Apa
Professor Michael Baker
Emeritus Professor Richard Bedford
Dr Dale Bramley
Professor Vicky Cameron
Dr Kyle Eggleton
Dr James Hutchinson
Professor Margaret Hyland
Ms Rose Kahaki
Mr Philip Patston
Professor John Potter
Professor Stephen Robertson
Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith

The Group will have two Co-Chairs, at least one of whom is Māori.

“This is not just about how the Health Research Council allocates its funding, but how the HRC, Ministry of Health, MBIE and other government agencies will work together to form a better and more integrated health research system” says the HRC’s chief executive, Professor Kath McPherson.

“There is no end of things to do, but the reality is there are limited resources and a need to make some choices,” she says.

“What are the biggest issues that face New Zealanders where research could make a difference? Do we have areas where, in fact, New Zealand could and should lead the world? What sort of skills do we need our researchers and health professionals to have, and to develop, so they can address the problems that are just around the corner?”

Dr Andy Simpson, chief medical officer at the Ministry of Health and member of the Steering Group for the Strategy, says all New Zealanders will be able to contribute to identifying the most important issues for health research to tackle.

“This group will help guide that process and so it is great to have such a range of expertise and experience,” he says.

ends

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