Government aims to 'eradicate childhood cancer' with $200m boost to medical research

Published: 11 October 2017

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The Turnbull government will provide close to $200 million for medical research, including $5 million towards children’s cancer foundation, CanTeen for their ‘Medical Research Future Fund’, the Prime Minister announced today.

The National Health Medical Research Council will receive the funds, which will be divided between various causes. 

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the national initiative will require collaboration in all states and territories – medical experts across the country are joining forces “to work towards the eradication of childhood cancer. A simple, clear, absolute and achievable goal in our lifetime,” he said.

Zero Childhood Cancer Initiative will receive a large cash injection of “$20 million to bring together a national network of hospitals, research centres and clinicians,” Mr Turnbull said.

“Investment will develop the next generation of clinical interventions and best practice care models for adolescent and young adult cancer patients. Bringing the latest medical innovations within reach of young people in Australia.”

Until now, many cancer patients have had to fork-out hundreds of thousands of dollars to receive treatment overseas.

“Over $3 8million of the funding announced today will support vital cancer research. That includes research to improve outcomes from melanoma patients,” Mr Turnbull said.

CanTeen CEO Peter Orchard welcomes the funding boost.

“It really fills out the picture for us,” he said. “The Australian government has already provided terrific funding that’s allowed us to set up world-class youth cancer services for these young patients.

“Now we can bring clinical trials and add them to that wonderful foundation. [It will] give access for young patients to the latest developments and treatment.

“This will mean the saving of lives… as well as shaping the future of treatment for young cancer patients here in Australia.”

He said initiative will give doctors clues about how to personalise therapy through precision medicine. 

“It’s an enormous opportunity and CanTeen is thrilled to work with the government in taking this forward. And with the state and territory governments that we partnered with, [we will provide] these cancer services around the country,” Mr Orchard said.

A multitude of other causes will also receive funding.

Mr Hunt said, “$22 million for cardio vascular support, $15 million for injury, $15 million for indigenous support, as well as a focus on dementia and diabetes.”

Mental health research will also get a much-needed cash injection.

“It is World Mental Health Week, and we are reminded of the need for greater investigation into the causes and treatments of mental health. We all have a vested interest in everybody’s mental health,” Mr Turnbull said.

“$29 million is going towards support for mental health research, that includes funding for critical research on the prevention of childhood suicide.” 

The funds will also help nurture and train medical professionals.

“The vast majority of the grants announced today will provide fellowships to support the careers of some of our most outstanding medical researchers,” Mr Turnbull said.