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A tight squeeze for health R&D in Sweden

Funding research at the cutting edge of medical care is like paddling upriver. Once you stop, you get dragged backwards. Sweden, renowned for its social welfare system that offers free healthcare, is experiencing this first hand.

Sweden has a history of medical breakthroughs. But a report published on 13 June by Research!Sweden, a non-governmental organisation focused on medical research, found that the country is below average when it comes to preventable deaths. Sweden ranks 15th in the EU on this measure—behind much poorer countries such as Poland and Slovenia. In 2016, more than 34 per cent of deaths among Swedish people under 75 could have been prevented with optimal treatment.

The problem comes down to low spending levels. The country spends just 2 per cent of comparative funds used for medical care on research.

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