Press Release

Minister launches Health Research Strategy

The Minister for Health and Children, Mr Micheál Martin, T.D., today (18 Septemeber 2001) launched the document “Making Knowledge Work for Health: A Strategy for Health Research.”

The document proposes a thriving research culture supported by two complementary but distinct pillars,

  • Establishment of a research and development function within the health services.
  • Enhanced support for science for health.

The analysis and proposals in the document are central to supporting a knowledge- based approach to health, guaranteeing better quality services to patients, ensuring more effective delivery of health services and creating a high quality training environment for young health professionals. These are “cross-cutting” issues that are relevant to all aspects of the newNational Health Strategy.

The document emphasises that we are on the eve of one of the most remarkable transformations of the understanding of the human body, of health and disease. Knowledge will become available as a consequence of the mapping of the human genome and other discoveries. This transformation in knowledge will generate much more effective means to protect health and combat disease. “The Irish Health Services must be to the forefront of this transformation, and ensure that this new knowledge is translated into treatment and care services which are as effective as others available in any health service in the world”, the Minister said.

Making Knowledge Work for Health is the result of intensive consultation over the past two years involving health providers, the universities and third level colleges, the research community, the voluntary sector and the healthcare industry. Its proposals reflect a consensus on how the health service should create, transfer and apply knowledge to promote health, combat disease and make services more effective. It develops the thinking of the White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation (1996) and the Technology Foresight Report of the Irish Council for Science, Technology and Innovation (1999) in the context of the health services. Its publication will assist in developing a knowledge based approach to the future development of the health services.

The proposed establishment of a research and development function in the health services will involve new structures,

  • Appointment of a Research and Development Officer in the Department of Health and Children;
  • Appointment of Research and Development Officers in health boards and in specialist health agencies;
  • Preparation by health boards and specialists agencies of institutional research strategies that reflect health service priorities;
  • Establishment of a Forum for Health and Social Care Research to advise on agreed research agendas addressing the main objectives of the health services;
  • Submission of proposals for funding of research initiatives consistent with the research strategies;
  • Review of proposals managed by the Health Research Board on behalf of the Department of Health and Children, with awards made mainly for five years and paid as part of the annual determination.

The resourcing of the above proposals is being considered in the context of the new Health Strategy.

Enhanced support for science for health will require,

  • Increased resources through the Health Research Board for competitive peer reviewed research of high scientific value in the biological and health sciences. This would involve more support for research units, project grants, fellowships and career awards, clinical research centres, equipment, information technology and biological banks.

Speech by Minister at launch of new Health Research Strategy