ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) announced on Thursday to spend over Rs2.2 billion in the next three to four years for the promotion of research on health and medical sciences in the country.
HEC will provide funding to public sector universities for research infrastructure development, establishment of hi-tech research labs and training of professionals in specialised areas.
These facilities would be established in three institutions: Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS), Karachi, Khyber Medical University (KMU), Peshawar and International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), Karachi.
The Central Development Working Party (CDWP) has already approved HEC's proposal.
Tropical diseases such as malaria, leprosy leishminasis and viral diseases hepatitis, tuberculosis and dengue fever have been affecting masses in the country and apart from proper treatment facilities, there was a need to conduct research on these health issues, a HEC press statement said.
HEC has also planned to develop a core team of researchers in allied health sciences. Under the scheme, existing research facilities at ICCBS and the University of Karachi (UoK) will be strengthened by provision of modern research laboratory equipment.
Moreover, research institutes in pancreatic surgery and transplantation and in diabetic and endocrinology will be established at KMU.
CDWP has also approved a scheme for DUHS to enhance its capacity to enroll more research students in dental and oral health.
Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) statistics showed that presently around 12,500 dental surgeons are registered in the country, implying one dental surgeon for 14,000 people as compared to World Health Organisation's (WHO) standard of one dental surgeon for at least 5,000 people.
The specialists in oral health are only 1,000 in Pakistan. The PMDC data depict the acute shortage of graduate and specialists in dental and oral health sciences. The facilities at DUHS will enhance its ability to enroll more postgraduate students at their campus.
HEC Director General Planning Dr Mazhar Saeed said that the commission has been using a balanced approach to develop research infrastructure in public-sector universities. HEC is also engaging universities to serve local communities, he added.