More MS research funding needed, experts say

Earlier this month, the federal government announced a package of funding for health and medical research. While the funding is welcome, some advocates are concerned not enough of the money is being directed towards neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS).

The Health Research for a Future Made in Australia package has a total investment of $1.89 billion, of which $1.4 billion will be dedicated to new research through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

What is the MRFF?

While the MRFF will fund research into a number of different health conditions, the funding will have a particular focus on cancer treatments, chronic pain, women’s health, alcohol and drug addiction treatment.

The MRFF has been given specific 10-year ‘research missions’ for both improving outcomes for low-survival cancers and reducing community health inequalities. 

Minister for health and aged care Mark Butler said at the time of the fund’s announcement the MRFF would accelerate Australia’s already overperforming medical research sector.

“The Albanese government is investing in a once in a generation transformation of health and medical research,” he said in a statement.

“Australia’s health and medical research sector punches well above its weight. We are ranked seventh in the world and the new national strategy will help our researchers continue to outperform.”

Are we forgetting anything?

While more medical research is always welcome, and strategic goals can help keep that research focused, some advocates have expressed concern that the MRFF is narrow in its remit.

MS Australia, the national advocate for multiple sclerosis sufferers, says neurological conditions such as MS must also be considered a major priority for medical research.

CEO Rohan Greenland says he backs the overall research package but is calling for an official MRFF neurological mission to be set up.

“I’m very pleased to see the government reaffirm its commitment to research missions through the MRFF with the establishment of two new missions,” he said.

“Given the government’s position is to establish new missions, MS Australia will continue its calls to the government to allocate funding to establish a MRFF neurological mission.”

MS is a chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and optic nerves) and which currently has no cure.

MS is a lifelong condition and about 33,000 Australians are currently living with the disease and statistics show between one and two people are diagnosed with MS here every day.

On a mission

MS Australia President Associate Professor Des Graham echoed Mr Greenland’s sentiments and says a specific neurological research mission would boost MS research by better co-ordinating efforts.

“The establishment of an MRFF neurological mission would assist in bringing together key researchers, health professionals, stakeholders, industry partners and patients to tackle the health challenges related to neurological conditions,” he said.

The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS cannot be reliably predicted, and can be both visible and invisible to others, and can even vary from person to person and from time to time in the same person.

However, the most common symptoms of MS include changes in memory or concentration, slurred or slow speech, extreme fatigue, muscle tremors and weakness and blurred vision.

Do you think more funding should be directed towards MS research? Do you have any experience with the disease? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Aussie breakthrough in diagnosing multiple sclerosis

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyer
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.
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