off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid

Professional Specialty 
Organizations and

Research Culture


Professional Specialty Organizations is an important resource which if used properly can play a vital role in improving not only the medical education but healthcare as well. They are supposed to come up with Standard Treatment Protocols for various diseases keeping in view the prevalent socioeconomic conditions and cultural values so that the treatment is cost effective and also affordable. They should also prepare Guidelines on various subjects and make sure they are printed, circulated among the healthcare professionals as widely as possible to have the desired impact.

While it is heartening to note that some of these specialty organizations to name a few i.e. Pakistan Cardiac Society, Pakistan Society of Gastroenterology, Pakistan Chest Society, Pakistan Hypertension League, Pakistan Aspirin Foundation, Pakistan Society of Rheumatology etc., have done lot of useful work in this regard and published valuable documents in their respective fields which is indeed commendable but many other organizations have not realize their responsibilities.

Yet another important aspect which these professional specialty organizations have missed so far is promoting the research culture. They spend billions of rupees on lunches, dinners, social get together at Five Star Hotels every year but they have hardly shown any interest in promoting research activity in the country. Quality of presentations by a large number of speakers at these conferences is also questionable and many a times they have come under severe criticism from the chairpersons who had the courage to point it out calling for original research than presenting data and information which is available on the net.

It will be interesting to mention here that Prof. Shaukat Ali Syed and his colleagues from JPMC (before NICVD was established) conducted a community epidemiological study on Rheumatic Fever, Rheumatic Heart Disease in 60s when the resources and facilities for conducting such a study were very meager and it has been very widely quoted nationally and internationally. Again, it was Prof. Hasan Aziz who conducted an epidemiological study on Epilepsy in the country many years ago which is also quite frequently quoted at national and international conferences and cited in the medical literature. Not only that realizing the fact that the number of qualified and experienced neurologists in Pakistan was too few three decades ago, in collaboration with a multinational pharmaceutical company, Prof. Hasan Aziz organized a series of meetings, training workshops for Family Physicians and others interested to educate them on how to diagnose and treat epilepsy. The presentations were supplemented with Video Clips of various types of seizures so that the participants could differentiate in different types of epilepsy and thus treat them accordingly. This programme went on for almost two years and the participants immensely enjoyed it and thus improved the care of epilepsy patients in Pakistan.

All this was possible because in those days these physicians were committed and devoted and medicine had not yet been converted into Trade from a Profession. Now despite the fact that we have a large number of neurologists, no community study has ever been planned or conducted even to find out the prevalence of Stroke. Speakers at the neurology conferences suffice it to say that no local data is available. As pointed out earlier, millions and billions of rupees are spent on organizing these conferences at Five Star Hotels but the organizers have never bothered to plan any scientific study. If a fraction of these funds collected from the Pharma trade and industry is set aside for research and some young energetic postgraduates who are interested in research are provided the funding, it is not at all difficult to conduct some basic epidemiological prevalence studies and then present their findings at such conferences. It is only possible if the organizers show some interest in promoting research culture instead of having social get together. One sincerely hopes that some of the saner elements in the different professional specialty organizations will give it a serious thought and help change the priorities of these specialty organizations. In the civilized developed world, professional specialty organizations have organized, conducted, funded and accomplished numerous research projects, thus playing their role in improving healthcare and research environment. Healthcare professionals in Pakistan also need to be reminded of upholding professional ethics at all times to ensure ethical medical practice.{jcomments on}

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