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We can't afford cancer drugs, but can afford this?


While cancer patients wait for the Government to "find the money" to fund desperately needed modern drugs, the very money meant for health research and saving lives is being flushed down the toilet.

At our weekly staff meeting this morning, the research team took me through the latest batch of grant funding decisions by the Health Research Council.

My heart sank.

I wanted to get the information in front of you ASAP so you can judge for yourself. I'm emailing to ask for your support so we can expose the wasteful spending and force the Government to redirect the cash to modern cancer medicines.

You won't believe the nonsense Wellington is getting away with!

But first, let's remind ourselves what the Health Research Council is. 

According to their website, their purpose is to "support high-quality, high-impact research by investing in People, Ideas and Priorities." They describe themselves as "the home of health research in New Zealand" and "here to improve the health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders through our process of identifying and supporting high-quality, high-value research that delivers far-reaching impact within the health and science landscape."

You can see where this is going...

Here are a few examples of just the first round of 2024 funding:

Hapai te hauora: Breathing your ancestors into life

"Hāpai te hauora’ as ‘breathing your ancestors into life’, captures the breadth & connections of a generation – rangatahi Māori–a generation moving forward together. This proposal builds on an HRC funded project (18/651) exploring the ways rangatahi Māori make sense of & live hāpai te hauora through navigating journeys of hauora & wellbeing."

Approved funding: $649,992

Sounds like high quality science! 👀

Timely access to rongoa Māori in cancer care services for Māori

"Prior to Europeans arriving in Aotearoa, traditional Māori way of healing was the only hauora practice Māori knew. Today, traditonal Māori healing is known as Rongoā Māori. Rongoā Māori is diverse and can include karakia [prayer], wai [water], waiata [music], himene [hymns], access to the ngahere [forest] and whenua [land].

For Māori health consumers, patients and whānau accessing cancer care service; seldom they are made aware of or referred early to rongoā Māori practitioners at the beginning of their cancer care journey.

Using tikanga Māori methodology and codesign with Māori health and iwi providers, our method will include interviews, and hui with rongoā Māori practitioners, Māori and Iwi providers, Māori health consumers, patients, their whānau, and health professionals in primary and secondary care in the MidCentral region to explore ways for timely access to rongoā Māori in cancer care services for Māori."

Approved funding: $398,771

Rather than fund the actual cancer medicines, the Government is funding "timely access" to cancer treatments witch-doctor cancer treatments. Ka pai!

If that doesn't work, there is always music therapy 🎶

He Whiringa Māramatanga: Kaupapa Māori Music and healing

"‘He Whiringa Māramatanga’ examines Kaupapa Māori music theories and practices as a pathway to accelerating Māori well-being. Music theory is primarily located within Western music notation, harmony, and tonality. However, Māori Music, particularly through oral forms such as waiata, karakia, ruruku, haka, pūrākau and whakapapa, illustrate that Māori have unique key elements of musical theories to create oral legacies and that traditional Western definitions of ‘music’ may be confining for true Māori creative expression."

Approved funding: $377,550

Or maybe barbershop is more your [cancer's] thing? 🎤💈

Health Promotion Interventions for Pacific men in a Barbershop

"A rapid review and qualitative interviews with Pacific men, Pacific heath promoters and Pacific barbers will inform the development of a Pacific health promoting behaviour change framework and intervention programme in a barbershop setting owned by a Pacific health provider. This first of its kind research in New Zealand brings together an underserved population, a non-traditional setting for health promotion and culturally unique health promotion interventions delivered by an unconventional health and wellbeing workforce (barbers)."

Approved funding: $150,000

Or how about, rather than fixing hospitals, or building nicer family waiting rooms, we splurge $150k on a study to understand the space?! Thanks to the Health Research Council, a very well paid 'space cadet' is coming to the rescue. 🏥

Building room for equity: Culture centred design of hospital waiting rooms

"Hospitals in Aotearoa New Zealand have a legacy founded in colonialism and are designed to Eurocentric principles of health and well-being – as such they are inequitable by design and represent culturally unsafe spaces for many people who need to access them. Hospital waiting rooms represent one such space. Our project is premised on understanding how physical spaces in hospitals shape people’s experiences of care."

Approved funding: $150,000

For our religious taxpayers, there's one for you too! 🙌

Research into Hine te Iwaiwa (who was the wife of Tinirau and is known as the spiritual guardian of childbirth who assists at the entrance into, and the exits from this world) is, as we understand it, worth a lot of money cutting-edge science.

Guided by Hine te Iwaiwa: Exploring Maramataka [traditional Māori lunar calendar] influence on pregnancy Outcomes

"This research aims to explore the effects of incorporating the maramataka, a traditional Māori lunar calendar system guided by the goddess Hine te Iwaiwa, into the context of pregnancy care for wāhine Māori and Maori Midwives."

Approved funding: $400,000

And then there's the help for our Pacific friends. 🌴

Remember, these grants are not for front-line services to help Pacific communities, but rather to "support high-quality, high-impact research"...

Development of a Fijian Model of Health

"The research seeks to develop a Fijian Health Model to address Fijian peoples health in Aotearoa New Zealand."

Approved funding: $649,561

Here's a thought: why not get New Zealand's own health model right (to serve everyone living here) before we start ethnic segmentation of our health system?

Then there's this grant, for nothing other than to support an academic's professional development! 

He Kaakaakura Whakamaatau [Translation: An Experimental Green]

"This programme of senior leadership research and training for Dr Belinda Borell will build on her expertise in kaupapa Māori research and enable her to pursue a development and capacity building plan to grow both her expertise and that of emerging researchers. Focusing on historical trauma, mixed methods will explore poverty and abuse in care."

Approved funding: $649,997

We had a quick look into Dr Borell. If you thought her work was, well, scientific, I've got some bad news.

This is her Massey University profile:

Belinda (Ngati Ranginui, Ngai Te Rangi, Whakatōhea) has recently completed her PhD, The Nature of the Gaze: a conceptual discussion of societal privilege from an indigenous perspective.  The thesis explores how Kaupapa Māori paradigms can make important contributions to research topics that may not be of direct or immediate relevance to Māori communities. Insights gained from a Kaupapa Māori investigation of white privilege in Aotearoa New Zealand are discussed. The thesis argues that cultural hegemony is maintained through structured forgetting, silence, and suppression of dissent which has dire consequences for dominant cultural groups as well as marginal. Structural racism and privilege are amenable to analyses utilising similar frameworks albeit from opposite sides that can provide valuable insights to understanding inequity more broadly. I also examine ways in which Kaupapa Māori analyses of white privilege can illuminate pathways of redress that will benefit all New Zealanders and provide more embracing perspectives of nationhood.

Dr Borell was also recently awarded the Hohua Tutengaehe Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Health Research Council of New Zealand to further her research into societal privilege.

Congratulations to Belinda for the $649,997 for her 'professional development'. Who knew naval gazing paid so well!? 🥳 🎉

That's just a taste!

These are just a selection of the nutty grants that the Taxpayers' Union will be highlighting over the coming weeks.

But make no mistake, while we can laugh about the decisions being made in Wellington, for the parents of those kids sitting on oncology wards, there is no humour in this. 

More than $30 million of the Health Research Council's annual budget of $125 million seems to have very little to do with health. That money alone is nearly half what is needed to fund the 13 cancer drugs that weren't in last month's budget.

The cancer drugs are not unaffordable, it's a matter of priority.

If you agree that the sorts of grants listed above are not a good use of your money, I'm asking you to chip in so we can put an end to this madness and redirect this money to front-line health and actual scientific research.

Support us to force the Government to take on the academic establishment and vested interests running these rorts

We all know the "experts" will scream to the media the moment the Government touches so-called "science money". That's why the Taxpayers' Union is needed to counter their spin and expose outfits like the "Health Research Council" for what they're doing with our money.

Like so much in government, things get captured. The Health Research Council is now just a group of self-interested academics giving our money to other self-interested academics (if you can call them that).

Will you support the Taxpayers' Union to force fiscal reprioritisation so that this money goes to actual scientific research and front-line medicines like cancer drugs?

>>> Donate to the campaign <<<

While Nicola Willis can shift some of the blame for the underfunding of Pharmac onto the last Labour Government, it simply isn't good enough to suggest there isn't enough to plug the gap, when we are still spraying money up the wall on nonsense like this. She needs political pressure to make the tough decisions and push back against the woke bureaucracy and academic establishment making these decisions.

As you can see, the money isn't going to where they say it is. We can win this – are you with me?

Thank you for your support.

Jordan Williams
Executive Director
New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union

ps. The Taxpayers' Union can only hold the Government's feet to the fire with support from people like you. Make a secure and confidential donation here so we can force the Government to take on the "academic establishment" running these rorts.


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  • Nztu Media
    published this page in News 2024-06-20 16:13:08 +1200

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