Thursday, 17 February 2011

ICMR prepares India's first national health research policy

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Feb 17: The Indian Council of Medical Research is involving the common man in framing the country's first ever national health research policy to meet the fast changing medical and health scenario.

Though the ICMR has devised the national health policy a decade ago, it has thus far not concentrated on the research aspect. People can have their say in the framing of the national health research policy by sending in their suggestions to the ICMR before February 25. Once the policy is in place, health researchers and planners will get a new set of guidelines to meet the challenges of new infections and pathogens.

"In the last three decades as many as 30 new infections have been reported from different parts of the country. In the absence of a national health research policy, there's no targeted research in the country. Our health policy-makers wake up only when there's an outbreak of a new diseases, like in the recent case of Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever," says Dr MN Khaja, senior researcher in genetics.

According to the ICMR statistics, only a handful of medical colleges in the country have really contributed to the medical and health research. Much of the published research is not on priority health concerns. Epidemiological know-how, surveillance technology and diagnostic services, which are essential for determining health priorities, are poorly developed.

Most of the scientific institutions in the country do not have proper uniform regulations, strict ethical norms and transparency, standard  methodology and international standards of research, points out health researcher Dr V Srinivas. The new health research policy will help evaluate diagnostics and trials of drugs, identify priorities for effective and ethical health research, and encourage indigenous production of diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics, and medical devices.

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