After the election: Vital that research is high on the political agenda

I have often and in various fora (including here on the blog) highlighted the fact that medical research, health care and lessons learnt from the pandemic have been all but absent from the political debate leading up to the election. As we know, other topics have been in the spotlight.

Consequently, it is now vital that these topics are brought high up on the political agenda once we have in place a new national government and new leaderships of councils and regions. It is incumbent on us – as academics – to help as much as we can.

Opinion piece in Aftonbladet

As a step in this direction an opinion piece was published yesterday. Along with colleagues and representatives of other institutes of higher education, organisations, and enterprises, I signed a commentary on our concerns in regard to the decreased public funding for medical research and on the importance of investing in research and addressing the legal constraints when it comes to the sharing of health data. The opinion piece was published in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet.

My fellow authors and I are worried about the decreasing state budget allocations to medical research and development. We must address the challenges we face when it comes to health without being hindered and delayed by political discord. The challenges are too urgent and too important to let that happen. We are at the tail end of a pandemic that brought research and knowledge dissemination to the fore and that told us that we must be better prepared next time around.

In our opinion piece we suggest that the new government should:

  1. Increase the state investments in medical research. In order for patients to receive the best possible care and for Sweden to retain and develop competence and skills, medical research must be placed higher on the national list of priorities. Considering that six out of seven political parties want to prioritise medical research in the state budget, this should be an obvious and early step for the new government. We argue that the investment should increase to the equivalent of 4 öre per Swedish krona spent on health care.
  2. Invest in research on health and medical care. Research ought to be an integrated part of health care, in which well-informed and engaged patients are seen as a valuable asset. The first step would be to secure precision medicine long-term and stable funding and to establish a model for financing preventive health initiatives within health and medical care. There seems to be strong political support for such initiatives.
  3. Make sharing of health data possible. Access to health data is a prerequisite for effective prevention, diagnostics, and treatment. A national action plan is needed to optimise gathering, storage and sharing of health data for the benefit of our patients.  It appears that all political parties want to prioritise measures that make it possible to share health date in a way that ensures privacy and security and at the same time offers possibilities for better treatment.

The opinion piece is available in its entirety (in Swedish) on Aftonbladet’s website.


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