With gradual development Medical Writing and Research has evolved into a specialty in its own right


National Conference on Medical Journalism at UHS
With gradual development Medical Writing and Research has evolved into a specialty in its own right
One should adopt the systematic method and authentic recorded
knowledge acts as stairway for further advancement-Kh.Saadiq Hussain
We are intensifying our efforts to find cost effective
indigenous solutions to our health problems-Javed Akram

LAHORE: Medial Writing is now a science. It has been evolving for centuries since the times of Al-Razi and Ibn-e-Sina who is known as the father of modern medicine and even before. These eminent scientists compiled their medical material in book-from with their personal experience in the 10th and 11th centuries over one thousand years ago. Over the centuries by gradual development, Medical Writing and Research has emerged as an important discipline and specialty in its own right on modern lines. We need to adopt systematic method and authentic recorded knowledge acts as a stairway for further advancement in a specific direction. This was stated by Prof. Kh. Saadiq Hussain an eminent physician, former President of CPSP and Principal of King Edward Medical College. He was speaking at the inaugural session of National Conference on Medical Journalism organized by University of Health Sciences Lahore from 18th to 20th January 2019. The conference was organized in collaboration with Pakistan Association of Medical Editors (PAME), Eastern Mediterranean Association of Medical Editors (EMAME), King Edward Medical University, and Fatima Jinnah Medical University and was supported by Pakistan Medical & Dental Council besides Higher Education Commission. It attracted a large number of medical editors, researchers, faculty members besides postgraduates from all over the country.

Prof. Javed Akram Vice Chancellor University of Health Sciences presenting mementos to
Mr. Justice Shakirullah Jan and  Prof. Kh. Saadiq Hussain ( Chief Guest) in the inaugural
session of National conference on Medical Journalism hosted by UHS in collaboration
with PAME, EMAME, KEMU, FJMU from 18-20th January 2019.

Responding to the most often asked question why in Pakistan we are lagging behind in such an important step in medical education Prof. Kh. Saadiq Hussain remarked that perhaps it may be difficult for most of those present to visualize today the ground realities which existed at the time of independence in 1947 and the impact which the partition of Indo-Pakistan sub-continent had on the medical profession. I myself, he further stated, was a medical student and thus fully involved in the process. Recounting the scenario Prof. Kh. Saadiq Hussain said that there was just one fully staffed, equipped, training college and teaching hospital i.e. King Edward Medical College. It used to admit one hundred students every year and only forty Muslim students used to get admission. Most of the teaching staff and their juniors were obviously non-Muslims. During summer vacation in August 1947 College was closed and students went on leave. When vacations finished, all non-Muslims never returned and it included not only teachers, doctors, nurses, paramedics, laboratory staff but even the menial staff just disappeared. All this meant a severe depletion in medical manpower at all levels. Most of the teachers used to teach two subjects instead of one subject. Added to this was the migration of millions of refugees to Pakistan which further multiplied the problems manifold. We the medical students worked in any and every capacity round the clock while carrying on with our classes and exams. There was severe deficiency of everything along with millions of refugees to cater for with acute shortage of funds. Hence, our priorities then, Prof. Kh. Saadiq Hussain stated were far from academic research or journalism. In fact it was plain simple saving the human beings who had been pushed out of their homes. The least we could do was to try and sustain them, try to increase the medical manpower and balance the budget. One cannot produce in weeks or months doctors, establish colleges and hospitals. Therefore the balancing act which followed for almost three decades was to increase the number of medical colleges from two to seven, increasing admissions from mere forty Muslim students to one hundred. This was the position in Punjab and the situation was worse in other provinces.

Continuing Prof. Kh. Saadiq Hussain said that it was not because of lack of awareness or interest that important aspects of medical writing and research were pushed to the backburner. As a matter of at I remember distinctly in the 70s when my former students after postgraduate training in USA returned and despite trying relentlessly did not succeed in finding a job for various reasons, they used to come to me for advice. My advice to them in those days used to be which to many today might sound unpatriotic. I used to tell them go back where you have been trained and get employment in hospitals overseas. Write papers, do research which will help them in their professional career and it will also promote the name of Pakistan. I knew the importance of medical writing and research and my advice was well taken by many. However, today we have one hundred sixty medical and dental colleges which enroll over eighteen thousand students. We are moving forward and the days are not far off when we will hopefully catch up. We did start late as till 1990s, there was no training in medical writing and research methodology. The first workshop on Medical Writing and Research Methodology was held at CPSP in 1995 and the first national conference on Medical Editing was organized at Army Medical College in 2007. Since the formation of EMAME in 2003 and formation of PAME in Pakistan, we have made tremendous progress. PAME has been conducting Hands on Workshops, training courses for researchers, postgraduates, faculty members and medical editors on medical writing, publication ethics, and peer review and now we are moving in the right direction. Currently UHS is busy in developing a course contents for a Certificate Course in Medical Editing which later on will develop into a Master’s Programme in Medical Journalism to train personal as Editors which will hopefully go a long way in improving the standard of medical writing and scientific publishing. Journalism, Prof. Kh. Saadiq Hussain remarked is not only what you say but how you say it. It should be authentic, convincing and easily understood. This objective requires a common methodology so that results of different workers in the same field can be reproduced and compared. It is extremely important to identify common challenges and objectives and arrange to meet nationally and internationally, try to overcome the challenges and attain the objectives. Hence, I will urge all of you present to join the efforts of PAME and EMAME and find a solution, he concluded.

 Invited guest speakers at the National Conference on Medical Journalism hosted by UHS
photographed with Prof. Kh. Saadiq Hussain  Chief Guest) Mr. Justice Shakirullah Jan,
Prof. Javed Akram VC UHS, Prof. Arshad Javed VC KEMU and some other participants
to the conference held from 18-20th January 2019 at the UHS Campus.

Mr. Justice Shakirullah Jan former President of Pakistan Medical & Dental Council in his brief address highlighted the accomplishments of the council during the last one year including establishing the Journals section at PM&DC, reconstitution of the Journals evaluation and recognition committee and forming the Terms of Reference for this committee. During its few meetings the committee has evaluated and recognized some journals, provided feedback to others and pointed out the deficiencies, he added.

Earlier Prof. Javed Akram Vice Chancellor of University of Health Sciences welcomed the distinguished invited guest speakers from Saudi Arabia, Iran, UAE and Pakistan. He also shared the various new initiatives taken by the UHS to improve and promote research culture, accelerate academic activities and efforts being made to find indigenous cost effective solutions to our health problems. Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid Chairperson of the Scientific Committee highlighted the objectives of the conference which were to promote the art of medical writing and scientific publishing with a view to improve and enhance Pakistan’s contribution to world medical literature. It will also help improving the standard of medical journals published from Pakistan. Prof. Hamid Hussain from UAE and Vice President of EMAME welcomed the participants on behalf of EMAME while Prof. Jamshed Akhtar President of PAME also thanked the distinguished speakers and participants for gracing the occasion with their presence. Mr. Haider Amin Chairman of Board of Trustee of University of Faisalabad also briefly addressed the audience and offered their help and assistance to promote the aims and objectives of PAME. Later the invited guest speakers were presented Mementoes by the Chief Guest.

Scientific Programme

Prof.Arshad Javed Vice Chancellor of Khyber Medical University alongwith Prof. Khalid Masood Gondal Vice Chancellor KEMU, Prof. Javed Akram VC UHS and Prof. Jamshed Akhtar chaired the first session.

Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid Chief Editor Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences spoke on Past, Present and Future of Medical Journalism in Pakistan. He discussed the developments taking place since 60s and contributions made over the years by Pakistan Medical Journalists Association, Pakistan Association of Medical Editors. PAME members, he said, were trying their best to build the professional capacity of authors, researchers and editors through various academic activities. The future looks bright and after years of discussions and deliberations, it has been decided to start with a Certificate Course in Medical Editing which will be followed by an Advance Course in Medical Editing. Both of these will be six months duration and the course contents are now being finalized. Later on it will develop into a Master’s Programme in Medical Journalism based on four modules of six months each.

 Prof. Kh. Saadiq Hussain alongwith Prof. Javed Akram VC UHS and Mr. Justice
Shakirullah Jan presenting mementoes to invited speakers at the National Conference on
Medical Journalism from (L to R) Prof. Hamid Farooqui from UAE, Prof.Sultan Ayoub Meo
from Saudi Arabia, Mr.Shaukat Ali Jawaid, and Prof.Major. Gen.M.Aslam Pro VC NUMS
and Prof.Ahmad Bader from Saudi Arabia.

Prof. Sultan Ayoub Meo from King Saud University Saudi Arabia highlighted the contributions, present status of Universities in Pakistan as regards their international ranking based on Research and Publications. Innovative research, he pointed out, plays a vital role in academic and scientific advancement and economic progress, long standing sustainable development. Pakistan with over two hundred million populations has 189 Higher Education Commission chartered universities and degree awarding institutes which includes thirty medical universities and 157 medical, dental colleges. From 1947-2018 Pakistan has produced 125,351 research publications in ISI-Web of Sciences indexed journals. Pakistan contributes just a meager 0.78% of scientific research papers appearing in the hundred leading scientific journals. Pakistan has produced just three hundred patents in the last ten years. Though at some levels Pakistan enjoys reasonable position in global competitiveness with the country ranking at No.46 but Pakistani universities have not achieved privileged position in global science, research and inventions. Not a single university from Pakistan is included in the top five hundred global universities as per Shanghai Ranking released in July 2018. Pakistan has 371 academic journals but only three medical journals i.e. Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences, Journal of Pakistan Medical Association and Journal of College of Physicians and Surgeons of Pakistan enjoy Impact Factor by Clarivate Analytics. These medical journals are establishing a platform to publish quality research. Major barrier in the progress of science and innovative research in the country, he opined, was absence of scientific research culture in our institutions, un-established research strategies, poor research funding, lack of institutional support and insufficient integration within the talent and scientific-rich institutes. Pakistani medical institutions, he opined must include research and medical professionalism in their curriculum where faculty and students are bonded by research-related values and practices towards building a safe home where new ideas can be tested. State must enhance spending on Research and Development, promote quality education, research and innovative culture, he concluded.

Prof. Major Gen. Muhammad Aslam Pro VC National University of Medical Sciences from Rawalpindi talked about the role of Universities and Medical Institutions in promoting medical journalism which he opined plays a pivotal role for the professional development and career development of faculty. Universities, he further stated needs to play a proactive role in promoting medical journalism by creating research environment, formulating research agenda, arranging training of researchers, and organizing short courses besides workshops. They must inculcate critical thinking. They should publish journals and try to attain international recognition and ranking, support and sponsor researchers to present their research at national and international conferences, develop university-industry linkages, build proper infrastructure, and establish publication departments which are properly staffed and equipped. They also need to establish purpose built conference rooms, video conferencing facilities and arrange intellectual meetings with Think-Tanks. They can also initiate, develop certificate, diploma courses facilitating multidisciplinary approaches, he added.

Invited guest speakers to the National Conference on Medical Journalism hosted by UHS from
18-20th January 2019 Prof. Akhtar Sherin, Prof. Jamshed Akhtar, Prof. M.B.Rokni from Iran,
Prof. Anwar Siddiqui and Dr. Farooq Rathore receiving mementoes from Prof. Kh. Saadiq
Hussain chief guest in the inaugural session. Also seen in the picture are
Mr. Justice Shakirullah Jan and Prof. Javed Akram VC UHS.

Prof. Arshad Javed in his concluding remarks commended the speakers for their innovative ideas. PM&DC as well HEC, he said were making commendable efforts to improve the standard of Pakistani medical journals. Prof. Aslam in his presentation has come up with some innovative ideas where the universities can make a positive contribution. We have made some progress though at present it may not look substantial but we need to intensify our efforts. Conferences like this will help achieve our objectives.

Prof. Hamid Hussain alongwith Prof.Amar Zaman Khan VC FJMU and Prof. Sultan Ayoub Meo chaired the next session. President PAME Prof. Jamshed Akhtar discussed the challenges in Peer Review. Finding a good peer reviewer he said, was a daunting task for the editors. Every researcher and faculty member cannot be considered a good reviewer. This is a common misconception and has resulted in low quality of review. Process of peer review itself has many shortcomings in terms of standardization. Scientific misconduct is quite common. Hands on workshops on Peer Review can help train the reviewers which will hopefully improve the quality of manuscripts being published.

Prof. M. B. Rokni from Islamic Republic of Iran, Editor of Iranian Journal of Public Health and Chair of EMAME Journal Indexing Committee discussed in detail how to get the journals indexed in various important databases including Scopus, Web of Sciences, Medline, PubMed and PubMed Central.

Prof. Akhtar Sherin highlighted the role of regulatory bodies like PM&DC as well HEC in promotion of medical journalism. He discussed in detail the efforts made by PAME so far. Both these bodies have now stated organizing some training courses and helping the medical journals though they need to do a lot more and they are capable of doing it, he remarked.

Prof. Kh. Saadiq Hussain alongwith Prof. Javed Akram VC UHS presenting mementoes to
Mr. Amin from University of Faisalabad, Dr. Irfan and Prof. Nazeer Khan during the
inaugural session of National Conference on Medical Journalism hosted by UHS.

Prof. Hamid Hussain from UAE discussed how to bridge the gap in medical journalism from mass media to peer reviewed Publications. Approaching the general population, he said, usually includes health related information covered by general mass media besides specialty medical Publications. However, for doctors and other healthcare professionals the material appears in peer reviewed medical journals. Mass media has most often been covering stories which are unsatisfactory most of which is not based on facts. Most of the errors committed by the media are also due to some wrong information appearing in the journals. Inaccuracies in scientific content, speculation, insufficient time to prepare accurate reports and Lack of training of health reports are some of the reasons for the present unsatisfactory state of affairs. This knowledge gap needs to be addressed and bridged by discussing these issues; while in depth analysis of risks vs. benefits was extremely important.

Prof. Ahmad Bader from Saudi Arabia in his presentation highlighted a very important aspect related to the credibility of cited assertions. The style of citation, he opined, matters a lot. The primary responsibility lies with the authors to look for the original citation. Effective conveying of results once again requires looking for styles of presentation in the relevant studies. Script must be compared with contemporary studies, agreements and disagreements both are important. The process of cited assertions and quotations, he opined, has well established international standards. He reminded his editor colleagues to be careful and discharge their responsibilities in assuring the credibility of the material which is cited.

On Day-2 of the conference, Dr. Farooq Rathore highlighted the rise of predatory journals, predatory publishers, predatory conferences and even predatory Indexes and warned the authors not to get trapped. They must verify the credibility of the journals and all those institutions, organizations behind these mushrooming of predatory academic activities. Young and experienced researchers often get duped. The number of these predatory journals now runs into thousands most of which are operated from USA, India, China, Nigeria and some other countries. There is an urgent need to create awareness about the menace of predatory and unethical publishing. The winning strategies include training the researchers, academics, students besides implementing strict clear rules and regulations regarding publishing, financially supporting the researchers, he added.

This was followed by an Open House Session which was chaired and moderated by Prof.Saira Afzal Editor of Annals of KEMU wherein many important issues related to medical journal publishing, use of manuscript management systems like Open Journal System were discussed.

Pre & Post Conference

An important highlight of the scientific programme of the conference was that no free papers were accepted. All the presentations were by invited guest speakers. There were four pre-conference workshops. Medical Writing workshop was held at UHS which was facilitated by Shaukat Ali Jawaid Chief Editor of Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences and Prof.Sultan Ayoub Meo from King Saud University from Saudi Arabia. Peer Review workshop held at King Edward Medical University was facilitated by Prof. Jamshed Akhtar, Prof. Nazeer Khan with the help of Prof.Saira Afzal. Prof.Akhtar Sherin and Dr. M. Irfan facilitated the workshop on Publication Ethics at Fatima Jinnah Medical University. Prof. Khalid Masood Gondal VC KEMU and Prof. Amar Zaman Khan VC FJMU were kind enough to provide all the help and assistance for these academic activities at their institutions. Prof. Anwar Siddiqui facilitated the workshop on Proposal Writing for Funding at Azra Naheed Medical College where Prof. Akbar Chaudhry Dean of Medicine and former Principal was the moving spirit behind this academic activity. Dr. Masood Jawaid facilitated the workshop on Open Journal System at UHS on January 20th 2019. Feedback received from the workshop participants was very positive. They thoroughly enjoyed the interactive discussions during the workshops which they found quite informative and useful. UHS had approved these workshops for 3.5 CME Credit Hours while the two day conference had seven CME Credit Hours.

Group photograph taken after the concluding session of National Conference on Medical
Journalism hosted by UHS shows some of the participants with Prof. Javed Akram VC
UHS and some invited guest speakers.

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