22 October 2017

Private vs Public money in the race to cure paralysis

click HERE to enlarge
See, I'm back for the second post since my return, and maybe today I'm going to raise some controversy.

Did you have a chance to read the last post and it's link to "Tequila Shots for Cirrhosis Research"?

Before I become controversial, I want to write a disclaimer...

  • I appreciate all the private funds that have gone to curing paralysis.
  • I appreciate all the private efforts individuals have made to cycle, and wheel, and run, and walk to raise money to cure paralysis.
  • I thank you because for now, raising private funds is one way that we can work to cure paralysis.
But, is private charity the best way to fund medical research?

I often link to "Tequila Shots for Cirrhosis Research". Simply put, it's the story of Rick Hansen and his goal to wheel across the world to raise money for SCI research. This was just after Terry Fox and from a young age is what made me conscious of the idea of doing something extraordinary to raise funds from private individuals for medical research. 

In my mind, and I think the CBC interview in "Tequila Shots for Cirrhosis Research" touches on it, is when science was privatised.

I don't know if I can say anymore than the comments made in the 1987 interview (see the side bar) about Hansen's ride to raise funds and the public vs private debate that ensued.

Bless Terry Fox and Rick Hansen for their efforts, but I agree with Peter Kavanagh (CBC producer and polio survivor) when he says, "This is not the way you deal with fundamental social problems…you do not deal with it through stunts.."

I don't want to go on too long today, so I'll just leave you with some points to ponder until next week and a couple of really good articles that show the good and the bad of private philanthropy in medical research.

  • In America, private donations to registered charities carry a 28% tax deduction. Looking at multi-billionaires donating millions of dollars, is it in the best interest of society that the uber rich decide what is funded? Does it make more sense to raise these funds through higher taxes on these big donors that are then disbursed by government which is responsible to the people?
  • What happens when organisations and the communities they support disagree? These organisations, even though privately funded, sometimes also receive government funds, tax breaks, and other government incentives. So are the communities they serve voiceless?
  • Even a counter point. Is government too bureaucratic to be dynamic enough and willing to take enough risks in medical research to be effective in a world where science and technology are developing so quickly?

Maybe you can send me an email or write a few comments below.

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