World Health Organization (WHO) Deputy Director-General and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director-General Soumya Swaminathan has unveiled a five-pronged strategy to improve public health status and also enhance research capabilities of health universities in the country. She was delivering the keynote address at the roundtable of Vice-Chancellors of Health Sciences Universities, conducted by the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) and hosted by Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences (SVIMS) here on Tuesday. She released her ‘Vision 2030.’

Swaminathan laid emphasis on strengthening biomedical research capabilities, which she referred to as the first pillar, by encouraging medical students to take up short term research and also incentivizing higher studies like M.D., Ph.D. (which is not recognized by the MCI). On data warehousing, she wanted effective utilization of the large quantum of data collected through surveys. She equally regretted that several ICMR-funded studies had never seen the light of the day.

Her third pillar indicated implementation research, i.e., public health practice and policy. “It is better to train ASHA workers in conducting preliminary screening of rural women for cervical cancer, though some prefer ANMs,” she observed. Apart from evidence policy translation as the fourth pillar, she stressed the need to leverage traditional knowledge, which included the ilk of folk healers and herbal medical practitioners, by scientific validation of the practice.

While appealing to the state for higher investment into Health R&D, Dr. Swaminathan also urged the Vice-Chancellors to ally with their peer social scientists from anthropology, psychology and social work to take the fruits of research to the grassroots. – The Hindu 


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