Research Australia's annual public opinion poll, this year conducted by Crosby Textor, shows cancer is the single major disease striking fear in the hearts of Australians. Two in three (64%) want a significant increase in funding for cancer research, compared to one in four (23%) who want additional resources for heart disease research.
Australians also want more action on solving the big emerging health issues associated with modern lifestyles. With weight increasing across the population and mental health issues like depression, once the domain of the adult population, creeping into children's lives, 18% of Australians want more diabetes research, 11% want more effort placed on obesity research and 14% want research into mental health ramped up.
Research Australia CEO, Dr Christine Bennett, said the message from the 2005 poll is loud and clear Australians identify health and medical research as a top national priority and want an all-of-community effort to substantially increase funding and resources.
"The majority of Australians agree there needs to be more funding for health and medical research over the next two to three years and the overwhelming majority consider education and health and medical research equally as the two most important sectors for the country's future," said Dr Bennett.
Out of 22 listed priorities, health and medical research rated sixth highest, ahead of improving employment opportunities, maintaining a strong focus on domestic border control, improving overseas trade and export and keeping interest rates low. Improving hospitals and the health care system is deemed the top priority.
Dr Bennett said the results highlight that Australians prize their health above all.