The Australian community expects to receive quality, timely and evidence based health care. At the same time, Australia, along with other economically advanced nations, is facing escalating health costs. The Australian Government has committed to reforming the health and hospital system, recognising that:
- Australia's health and prosperity are inextricably linked.
- The burden of disease and major health challenges have changed in recent decades and now primarily relate to ageing, obesity and chronic disease conditions, with an associated need for increased emphasis on prevention, early intervention and self care.
The establishment of NICM in mid-2007 provides a mechanism for a co-ordinated, national approach to building research capacity and addressing complex issues around complementary medicine, including:
- Bridging the gap between the health potential and high level of use of complementary medicine and available evidence.
- Managing the volume and establishing sources of reliable and accurate information about safety, efficacy and value.
- The appropriate role of complementary medicine in the health system.
In 2013 the Centre for Complementary Medicine Research (CompleMED) was incorporated with NICM.
Health and medical research has been demonstrated to be of significant value to national growth and development in delivering both health and economic returns. Australia has internationally recognised strengths in basic and translational health and medical research including clinical trials which routinely meet US and European regulatory standards.
In terms of complementary medicine research:
- Australia has one of the highest consumption rates (per capita in developed nations) of complementary medicines yet one of the lowest investments in related research.
- There is growing evidence that complementary medicine can make a significant, cost-effective contribution, particularly to chronic disease with associated cost savings in terms of reduced hospitalisations and iatrogenic illness. However, there is a need to strengthen this evidence and identify and utilise validated interventions.
- Australia has significant strengths in complementary medicine research. However, there is a pressing need to build critical mass and better co-ordinate research effort. International experience is that an effective strategy for building capacity is to partner complementary medicine practitioners and researchers with mainstream health and science researchers and to support cross-disciplinary research teams.
- Exploring traditional (indigenous) clinical approaches may generate new scientific insights into health and disease.