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Western Australia aims for health leadership with 10-year strategy


State’s first medical research strategy focuses on infrastructure and staffing

Western Australia is to target six priority areas in its bid to become a world leader in medical research.

The state launched a 10-year health and medical research strategy on 9 February, targeting Aboriginal health, consumer engagement, “precision” health, regional and remote health, digital healthcare and prevention.

“Precision” health research involves the production of therapeutics. The strategy says the state’s universities and research institutes are already strong in this area.

It commits to tracking the progress of medical research translation and adjusting policy to “actively facilitate the timely translation of research findings into practice”.

Among its strategic goals are attracting and retaining research talent in key areas, better integration of research in the state’s healthcare system and improved industry and consumer collaboration with researchers.

Existing infrastructure will be reviewed to identify opportunities, followed by a “refinement” period of improving infrastructure.

The plan does not come with specific spending promises but says it will guide funding to strategic areas, seek co-investment and ensure the state can “secure an equitable share in Commonwealth health and medical research funding”.

Red tape

It also commits to reducing red tape by aligning the funding processes of Western Australia’s various health research funding programmes. These include the Future Health Research and Innovation Fund, which runs numerous programmes and currently has three A$2.5 million research fellowships open for applications, with extra money expected to come from the fellows’ institutions. It has also issued a A$5m “challenge” to researchers to find solutions to healthcare issues in the remote Pilbara region (pictured).

Western Australian health and medical researchers and user communities have been urged to “own” the strategy, with state support.

Stephen Dawson, the state’s minister for medical research, said the strategy would “create an environment where our researchers have the tools they need to transform brilliant ideas into real change”.