PharmEvo is trying to facilitate and promote Research culture in Pakistan-Jamshed Ahmad

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PharmEvo is trying to facilitate and promote
Research culture in Pakistan-Jamshed Ahmad

We need to identify young men and women
interested in research  - Prof. A.G. Billoo

Start Low and Go Slow ensures ultimate success
in Research - Prof. A. Basit

From our correspondent

LAHORE: PharmEvo one of the leading national pharmaceutical company known for its ethical approach in marketing is making lot of investment to facilitate and promote research culturer in Pakistan. To achieve this objective, it has founded Medical Research Advisory Board which will be eventually converted into a Trust / Foundation to promote research activities. To formally inaugurate the central chapter in Lahore a meeting was organized on August 29th which was attended by a select gathering comprising of eminent members of the medical profession, faculty members from various medical institutions interested in research.

Prof. A. G. Billoo along with Prof. A. Basit, Mr.Jamshed Ahmad COO PharmEvo,
Dr. Zaki and Dr. Saeed chairing a meeting organized by Medical Research
Advisory Board to formally launch Central Chapter at Lahore on August 29th 2013.

Addressing the participants Mr. Jamshed Ahmad Chief Operating Officer of PharmEvo said that this was a major initiative in the research domain by PharmEvo. Senior healthcare professionals affiliated with this initiative have already identified certain important areas wherein we will be concentrating as regards promotion of research activity and it was not a marketing oriented activity. PharmEvo at present has its presence in nine countries and as concerned citizens of Pakistan we feel that no other country will come to Pakistan to promote research. We have to do it ourselves. Major research activity in United States, he stated is funded by Pharma industry and we hope to contribute our share in promoting research activities in Pakistan. In the days to come this Medical Research Advisory Board will be converted into a Foundation/Trust run and managed by members of the medical profession. We will continue to fund this activity as silent organizers. We believe that it is only a few people who can make a difference. We are also developing international collaboration and hope this initiative by PharmEvo will go a long way in promoting research culture in the country.
Prof. A. G. Billoo Chairman of the Medical Research Advisory Board in his speech on the occasion said that we want to make a difference as we wish to create a research culture in Pakistan. Research in health does not exist in Pakistan and whatever research activity we see here is in a conceptual stage. We have many young researchers and we need to harness them. We hope to indentify these young men and women to make them interested in research. We need to train young men and women in research methodology. We need to do research in metabolic disorders, infectious diseases, diabetes, maternal and child health, cardiovascular diseases and oncology besides arthritis including oral cancer as to why they are so common. We need to ensure cost effective healthcare which the people of Pakistan can afford. We have to identify our problems and find indigenous solutions through research.
Continuing Prof. Billoo said that for conducting research, mobilization of resources is a must. Universities and Health Departments should sponsor research activities. Many young researchers do not know how to write research proposals for grants. They need to be educated. Pakistan Science Foundation, Higher Education Commission and Pakistan Medical Research Council all have lot of funding which can be acquired by submitting good quality research protocols. As regards international funding, sky is the limit. One can approach WHO, UNICEF, NIH and many other donor agencies. We in Medical Research Advisory Board are determined to make a difference in Pakistan by identifying young men and women interested in research and building their capacity. Solution to our health problems lies in indigenous solutions which will come through local research, he added.
Prof. Abdul Basit Director Baqai Institute of Diabetes and Endocrinology (BIDE) at Baqai Medical University was the next speaker who described the five basic principles to initiate research activity. He opined that one should start with basic clinical studies, appoint a research officer who should be a medical graduate. When we did that at BIDE, this Research Officer’s salary was paid by a pharmaceutical company. Develop the needed software from Day one. Employ a data entry operator. In the second phase, one can embark on advanced clinical studies and at this stage one has to appoint a part time statistician. Design a protocol, constitute an Institutional Review Board and make arrangements for protocol designing and project planning. In the third stage one can do multicenter studies which can be prospective and interventional studies and one needs a full time biostatistician. In stage four, one can go for multinational studies focusing on public health. Appoint a research co-coordinator and in the fifth stage one can go for major projects and surveys. We hold weekly Research meeting on every Wednesday in the morning which has been going on for the last twelve years without any break. After every phase of studies, we had generated lot of data based on which studies got published. We have a great potential in Pakistan and we need to explore it.
Prof. Basit’s advice to the participants was that one should always start low and go slow. Small studies eventually turn out in bigger studies. To begin with select small journals for publication go for peer reviewed journals and publish in good quality national journals. Later on one can submit manuscripts to international journals as well. Do not fee shy in taking advice and guidance, give credit to all those who have contributed to the study. Barriers in research can all be overcome. Research, he said, is a long term investment and there are not short cuts.
Dr. Zakiuddin Ahmad Secretary of Medical Research Advisory Board in his presentation said that their major emphasis will be on training personnel and building capacity. PharmEvo has been running this programme in different segments i.e. Clinision is one of them. Others include Jahan-e-Messiah, mLead and eDr. PharmEvo has established clinical research centers in various medical institutions, support research, clinical trials and studies besides organizing workshops on research methodology. We organize workshops on literature search; epidemiology, grant proposal writing, CME programmes and career guidance centers have also been established. PharmEvo has also established Learning Resource Centers at various institutions where medical computer skills workshops are organized, leaders in healthcare workshops are another activity. Through Patient First, we train healthcare professionals to ensure quality care with a smile. With main focus on capacity building, we will be working in various fields. We will also sponsor young researchers to attend an Online Certificate Course in Research Methodology and Medical Writing besides publishing a Research Reference Guide.
Dr. Mohammad Saeed in his presentation discussed why research is essential. He talked about setting goals and priorities as there are lot of differences in Western and Muslim society. For example to tackle the problem of obesity the West may think of a pharmaceutical product but in the East there may be emphasis on cognitive behaviour therapy or preventive measures. To people suffering from depression, one gives hope. We have to keep in view the subjective realities as the mind set of the East and West are very different, he added.
The presentations were followed by lively discussion. Participating in the discussion Prof. Saulat Siddique from Sheikh Zayed Hospital referred to the Trial Registry while Dr. Amber Malik said that PharmEvo has already established a Learning Resource Centre at Sheikh Zayed Hospital and wished that these facilities and services should be linked with that. Prof. Aizaz Mand opined that they have a registry of dialysis patients. Pakistan Kidney Foundation is maintaining this registry and we will welcome any help to update that registry. Dr. Mohyuddin Chaudhry from PIC said that research is not a primary job of doctors who are more interested in clinical work. Research is not a priority. Research at present is a bye product of post graduation. We do not have many people who are specialized in research. Busy clinicians will not find much time for research. Moreover research studies need histopathology backup, genetics facilities are not available in most of our institutions, and we do not have an environment conductive for research. The name RAB also needs to be reconsidered and changed. Dr. Shamsa Humayun from FJMC opined that we also need to do educational research and focus on medical education. We need software for data entry. If we can be helped in procurement of such software by institutions, junior doctors can be asked to feed the data.
Responding to the above remarks, Prof. Billoo said that some of us are clinicians and educationists, some are clinicians and researches and some are researchers alone. It is up to you what you have decided for yourself. Clinicians though busy but can still participate and conduct research. They can guide the team and there are various ways to do research. Prof. Abu Baker said that we need to have material and it all comes from the data. We need to develop software for documentation. We should know how many patients came with arthritis, low back pain and so on for which proper documentation through appropriate software is essential. Prof. Basit said that we have established one hundred fifteen Diabetic Foot Clinics and when we sent them two page software for entering the data, less than ten were doing that. Dr.Saeed suggested that one can use the medical students for entering the data but the problem arises when the doctors have not entered all the details on the datasheet. Dr. Seemin Hussain and another participant from FMH commended PharmEvo’s efforts to promote this research culture in Pakistan.
Summing up the deliberations Prof. A. G. Billo said that he was delighted at the tremendous interest which the participants have shown asking questions and comments, suggestions. Let us seize this opportunity, discuss our problems and come up with indigenous solutions to our health problems.