Research must have impact on policy makers and it should improve health of people

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 First International Medical Research Conference by RAB

Research must have impact on policy makers
and it should improve health of people

Strong leadership, sustainable human and
financial resources are essential for quality
research - Prof. A. G. Billoo

RAB to identify & support young researchers, have
biennial conference & establish provincial chapters

KARACHI: Research Advisory Board (RAB) an initiative by PharmEvo one of the most ethical national pharmaceutical companies in Pakistan known for its innovative strategies and interventions in pharmaceutical marketing and provision of healthcare organized First International Research Conference to promote research culture in the country here on January 13th 2013. The meeting attracted a large number of eminent clinicians, academicians and research scientists from all over the country. Their commitment was evident from the fact that despite being Sunday, the participants remained present in the meeting the whole day. At the end of the day the RAB meeting decided to hold biennial research conference, establish provincial chapters to ensure regular meetings and identify young researchers who will be supported to promote research culture in the country. Invited guest speakers from overseas included Prof. Ho Khek Yu Lawrence from Singapore and Ms. Nadia Cheaib President Clinserve from France.

Speaking in the inaugural session Prof.A.G.Billoo an eminent paediatrician of the country and Chairman of Research Advisory Board (RAB) said that according to WHO strong leadership, sustainable human and financial resource is essential for quality research. Research must be relevant to the local diseases and it must have impact on policy makers besides improving health of the people. Our research output has so far remained pathetic but now the situation is improving. I myself have not been a great researcher but have remained active in the health scene now for fifty years. Health has not been a priority with our successive governments, our total health allocations has remained less than 1% of GDP but actually we spent less than 0.7% of during the last many years. We have hardly any commitment to research but now we have committed people in this meeting. In the past we just have had anecdotal efforts. HEC did try to improve the situation but now in view of the recent developments, less said the better.
Continuing Prof. Billoo said that now we have over hundred medical colleges but we do not teach them public health. In the past it used to be hygiene but now it has progressed to community health sciences but the fresh medical graduates have no idea how to make proper diagnosis. As regards our research publications, it is just 0.8 per million population while the number of good quality peer reviewed medical journals is very few. We are faced with communicable diseases, have high maternal mortality, high neonatal mortality, high infant and child mortality whereas the burden of non-communicable diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer was also a major killer. According to various studies prevalence of diabetes in Pakistan was about 10-12%. We have to face these challenges, plan and conduct research on diseases prevalent in our country and in this region which should have impact on policy makers. We need to have health care which is affordable. Today young and senior clinicians are present in this meeting which shows their commitment. There is no dearth of funding if we come up with need based and relevant research. We must wake up and grab these opportunities, he remarked.
Prof. Ejaz Ahmad Vohra an eminent physician of the country who was the Guest of Honour in the conference addressing the participants said that we must get rid of authoritative culture, encourage residents and juniors to ask questions. There is no senior or junior in science but it is right which matters. We need to promote asking questions. Without respecting those in academic medicine we cannot move forward and efforts have to be made to restrict professional brain drain.
Dr. Zakiuddin Ahmad highlighted the aims and objectives of RAB which he said was a Think Tank of senior clinicians and researchers, and academicians representing various disciplines of medicine. Later the RAB had its meeting chaired by Prof. Billoo which discussed many important issues as regards its future activities and functioning. Detailed report about the conference to follow.

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