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Don’t just treat the disease – find the cause
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is under pressure to increase funding to combat the social issues that influence health.
In the December issue of Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Professor Fran Baum and colleagues suggest some steps towards improving funding for health research.
“The NHMRC is the primary funder of health and medical research in Australia, but the bulk of its funded research tends to focus on illness and disease rather than on health,” Professor Baum said.
“NHMRC’s central role is to ‘build a healthy Australia’. That should include addressing the social determinants of health across all population groups.
“The current focus on high-risk individuals and groups, and biomedical research, is less likely to achieve improved population health and health equity than research that addresses the social determinants of health.
“For example, rather than asking how to treat young people with depression, it would question why Australia has higher rates of depression in young people, and what social, cultural and economic trends have fuelled this.
“We need research that highlights which social and economic arrangements lead to the most improved and equitable population health outcomes.”
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