Year in review: reduce inequities and lead to a healthier nation

Cosmos Magazine


Cosmos is a quarterly science magazine. We aim to inspire curiosity in ‘The Science of Everything’ and make the world of science accessible to everyone.

By Cosmos

Cosmos has invited the Australian learned academies to review 2023 and explore 2024 in this end of year series.

Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences

AAHMS President Professor Louise Baur.

This year, AAHMS launched its Outstanding First Nations Researcher Medal. The medal will be awarded for the first time in 2024. It is an opportunity to celebrate an outstanding mid-career researcher of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent, who is an emerging research leader working and making an impactful contribution in the health and medical sciences in Australia. The medal comes with a $10,000 travel grant (sponsored by Bellberry) to allow the winner to further their research.

AAHMS is committed to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing: it is an objective that influences all our work. Having a medal dedicated to recognising and encouraging First Nations researchers is a tangible part of this work. It is particularly important because we know the value of lived experience and First Nations’ leadership and input into research that impacts these communities, and this award and travel grant will support them in their work.

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Louise Baur (AAHMS).

We would love to see better integration of research in healthcare – a long-running goal for AAHMS. In 2022, we released a report, Research and innovation as core functions in transforming the health system: A vision for the future of health in Australia, that demonstrated the value of having research and innovation embedded as core functions of the health system. By doing this, Australia could deliver more efficient, evidence-based care for the community, improve health outcomes and save money. During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent vaccine development, we saw the value of rapid translation of health research from the laboratory to patient care and policy. We must build on this momentum to enable the research and health systems to work more closely together so that benefits can be seen across all health challenges in Australia.

The AAHMS report outlined a three-year plan to better support the integration of research in healthcare, based on input from more than 260 people, including consumers, and in 2024 we will continue engaging with stakeholders to ensure we see more of our recommendations considered and implemented.

In 2024, we dream of seeing progress to reduce health inequities. Not all people in Australia are equally affected by health challenges. We know health and wellbeing are impacted by social, environmental, structural, economic, cultural, biomedical, commercial and digital factors that lead to inequity and inequality within society. In Australia, health inequities are experienced by groups including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people in rural and remote communities, people with disability, those from socioeconomic disadvantage, and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

As Australia’s health challenges continue to grow, so does the impact on our health system, communities and economy. Prevention is a key aspect of good health and wellbeing for all those living in Australia, and by embedding preventive health action in our system, we could create a healthier nation and reduce health inequalities.

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