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Sunday October 24, 2021

Experts criticise government for not funding research in health sector

September 27, 2021

Deploring the fact that research in the health sector has not been a priority of any government in Pakistan, leading health experts said on Saturday that the authorities should not only allocate funds for research in the health sector but also promulgate laws compelling the 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 the 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 (MoU) regarding the first Hypertension Research Award.

Under the joint initiative of the Pakistan Hypertension League (PHL) and the Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences, to be funded by the PharmEvo Research Forum (PRF), grants up to Rs300,000 would be offered to healthcare professionals and medical students to study hypertension, its root causes, its management and treatment as well as appropriate medication and their dosage for the control of hypertension in various segments of society.

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

“Whatever research work is being done in Pakistan is due to the personal efforts of 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 the PharmEvo Research Forum for the initiative, which would encourage young clinicians and medical students to conduct research in the area of hypertension” added Prof Ishaq.

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

“An international study found that Pakistani and Indian women are more at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases because they burn four times less calories as compared to European and Western women,” Prof Siddiq said, and called for local studies and research to learn more about the disease patterns in the 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 mobile phones could increase the incidence of hypertension and premature deaths due to it in society.

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

“The body mass index, genetic makeup, climate and lifestyle of Europeans are quite different from those of 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, the pharma industry and the authorities to fund research in Pakistan. Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences Chief Editor and PRF Chairperson Shaukat Ali Jawaid, Dr Masood Jawaid, Mansoor Khan and others were also present on the occasion.