HRA response to The McKeon Review

The Minister for Health, the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, last week released the report of the McKeon Review - Strategic Review of Health and Medical Research - Better Health through Research.

The Strategic Review of Health and Medical Research in Australia was established by the Australian Government in late 2011. The Review was to report early in 2013 and recommend a 10-year strategic health and medical research plan for the nation.

The full report and the summary version of the report can be accessed on the Review website homepage

According to the report, “The purpose of health and medical research (HMR) is to achieve better health for all Australians.”

Humane Research Australia appreciates the importance of having a long term strategy to address the future of Australian health, however the final report fails to:

acknowledge the dangers of our current practice of relying on animal-based research

identify the need to develop non-animal methodologies that are species-specific

promote lifestyle education, and instead appears to foster the development of an industry which relies on sickness within the community to continue its existence.

Humane Research Australia considers that reliance on animal-based data is a major failing in our current research sector and is disappointed about this blatant omission in any long-term plan for human health.

A more logical strategy would be to shift the focus toward health education and lifestyle choices in order to reduce the burden on our healthcare system. It seems absurd that public funding is used to research disease (on the wrong species) whilst we already have the capacity to heal many people who are sick and dying of preventable illnesses due to lack of education and under-resourcing of hospitals and medical staff.

The need for non-animal methodologies (species-specific research)
Systematic reviews conducted in the areas of toxicity testing and biomedical research have shown that alternatives are far more predictive of human outcomes than data obtained from animals.

Overseas researchers have government funded institutions dedicated to the development and validation of alternative methodologies. The Australian government needs to show a commitment to the development and validation of non-animal methodologies.

It is hoped at the very least, the McKeon Review will encourage closer scrutiny of the way in which Australia uses its research funding and reduce the chances of wasted resources “invested” into such non-essential research such as breast implants in pigs, shaking lambs to death, feeding alcohol to pregnant sheep and marijuana to rats.



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