Wednesday, December 7

Research, development still not govt’s priority in Pakistan: Moot told

KARACHI: Deploring that research in the health sector is not a priority of any government in Pakistan, leading health experts Saturday said authorities should not only allocate funds for research in the health sector but also promulgate laws compelling pharmaceutical sector to fund research projects to collect data on diseases and their management in the country.

“Research and development have never been a priority of any government in Pakistan although National Health Services was supposed to collect data of all the diseases, establish national disease registries and help out academicians in managing the ailments. It is the right time that laws are promulgated to promote clinical research in the health sector in Pakistan,” eminent cardiologist Prof. Muhammad Ishaq said while signing a memorandum of understanding regarding 1st Hypertension Research Award.

Under the joint initiative of Pakistan Hypertension League (PHL) and Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences, to be funded by Pharmevo Research Forum, grants upto three hundred thousand rupees would be offered to the healthcare professionals and medical students to study hypertension, its root causes, management and treatment as well as appropriate medication and their dosage for the control of hypertension in various segments of the society.

Prof. Ishaq, who is the secretary general of Pakistan Hypertension League (PHL), also criticized the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) and the pharmaceutical sector for ignoring the research and development sector, saying except for a few major pharmaceutical companies, majority of companies were busy only in money-making but were not interested in the well-being of the society by funding the academic and research activities in Pakistan.

“Whatever research work is being done in Pakistan is due to personal efforts by the health experts and researchers and they are doing it on their own without any support and funding from the government. In this scenario, we are quite thankful to the Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences and Pharmevo Research Forum for the initiative, which would encourage young clinicians and medical students to conduct research in the area of hypertension”, Prof. Ishaq added.

Another eminent cardiologist from Lahore, Prof. Saulat Siddiq who is the president of PHL said every second Pakistani is hypertensive in Pakistan but we are relying on the researches and studies conducted in the Europe and neighboring countries as we lack accurate data and added that Pakistani and Indian women were more at the risk of becoming hypertensive due to obesity and lack of physical exercise.

“An international study found the Pakistani and Indian women are more at risk of developing cardiovascular disease as they burn four times less calories as compared to European and Western women”, Prof. Saulat Siddiq said but called for local studies and research to learn more about the disease pattern in Pakistani population.

According to him, even women living in small apartments could reduce their weight and control their hypertension by resorting to stationary jogging and other exercises and warned that excessive time on cell-phones could increase the incidence of hypertension and premature deaths due to it in the society.

Vice Chancellor, Indus Medical University, Prof. Feroz Memon also deplored that foreign data and studies were being used to learn the disease pattern in Pakistan, saying unless we have our data and research, we cannot ensure the proper healthcare and well-being of our citizens.

“Body Mass Index, genetic makeup, climate and lifestyle of Europeans are quite different than South Asians so we need our own research and data to manage and treat diseases in our population,” Prof Memon said and urged the corporate and pharmaceutical sectors, pharma industry and the authorities to fund the research in Pakistan. Chief Editor, Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences and Chairperson PRF Shaukat Ali Jawaid, Dr. Masood Jawaid, Mansoor Khan, and others were also present.