March 10, 2024 08:08 pm | Updated March 11, 2024 11:43 am IST – Thiruvananthapuram

Representational file image.
| Photo Credit: Mohammed Yousuf

Scientists and public health experts have time and again rued Kerala’s apparent disinterest in basic and clinical research in the health sector and the total lack of an enabling environment, incentives or support in medical colleges in the State.

The newly unveiled Kerala Health Sciences Research Policy, formulated by the Kerala State Higher Education Council, has focused so much on the need to create an enabling environment in medical institutions in the State to encourage research that it has sparked much interest amongst scientists and the medical fraternity.

One of the key objectives stated in the policy is to make research an integral part of health science studies and the medical science field.

The policy declaration states that research will be made an integral part of clinical studies in all medical colleges in the State and that these institutions will be networked to other premier research institutions in the State like Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology and the Institute of Advanced Virology. Medical Colleges will be encouraged to sign MoUs with these research institutions .

All information regarding research opportunities, research funding will be made available to medical colleges through an information system. Interested private institutions will also be included in this network.

All Government Medical Colleges will be upgraded in a phased manner as autonomous research institutions with modern research labs and linked to medical, industries and science and technology sectors .

The State Board of Medical Research (SBMR) will be converted as an Analytical Biomedical Research Centre with good lab facilities and experienced research faculty to train young doctors in pursuing research

A system will be formulated wherein eligible five or six persons with proven research ability will be given short/long-term projects every year, following ICMR norms .

Research projects of medical college faculty will be provided funds through SBMR and adequate funds will be allocated to SBMR by the government In the long-term. Medical Research Fund will be set up creating an enabling environment for research.

Competitive exam

One of the major proposals put forth by the policy document is that assistant professors with research aptitude and talent will be selected through a competitive examination and that they be offered Phd research fellowship for three years, while protecting their pay and service conditions. They will have the freedom to join a Phd programme in any biomedical research centres in the country. The same will be offered to associate professors who have more than 10 remaining years in service.

The policy states that legislation will be brought in to give service protection to those who secure research fellowships and training programmes in research institutions/Universities abroad, on the basis of a bond.

The policy reiterates all support for medical research in the State by promising that doctors in medical colleges engaged in clinical research/research in health sciences /biomedical research, would be allowed dedicated research time, by adjusting their outpatient clinic times and teaching time. Those who are interested in pursuing research and who are qualified to do it will be given sabbatical leave every five years.

Norms to be simplified

Administrative procedures and norms for pursuing research will be simplified for researchers in government medical colleges and allied institutions and all help will be extended to ensure timely completion. All steps will be taken for enabling capacity building and facilities will be created for the smooth conduct of clinical trials

A research network linking all universities and all health sciences and allied research institutions will be launched

A specific allocation from within the Public Health Budget of the State will be set apart for health research. Of the State’s research fund, at least 25% will also be set apart from health sciences research, the policy states.

Another important area covered by the policy is sharing of medical data.

All patient data with the State – including data stored in the health insurance sector and data evolved through various Government-led surveys — would be made accessible to researchers after protecting the privacy of individuals and by formulating clear-cut guidelines.

Source link