THIS refers to the letter ‘Ignoring the field of medical research’ (Apr 18), which rightly pointed out that Pakistan lacks medical research seriously. It is unfortunate that medical research is a neglected field in the country. There are many governmental organisations, professional societies and pharmaceutical companies that can contribute to quality research, at least in human diseases that are indigenous or prevalent in Pakistan.

However, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) does not seem to have a budget for private institutions or health centres. It only funds public organisations and universities, where health research is not taken seriously.

Besides, multinational pharmaceutical firms working in Pakistan are also indifferent in this regard. These US and European companies provide enormous funding to both government and private institutions for health research in their home countries. However, the irony is that their subsidiaries in Pakistan rarely support research here despite earning huge profits.

Another issue is that we do not seem to have an infrastructure in the field of medical research yet. There is no national medical research council that can provide basic clinical and ethical guidance and approve and monitor indigenous and outsourced projects by Pakistani researchers.

Outsourced clinical trial projects for drugs and vaccines involving human subjects are generally provided to countries, such as Pakistan and India, where informed consent by the participants is never obtained or a fake consent is provided to the principal organisations.

The relevant authorities should look into the matter and encourage medical research for the benefit of our people.

Prof Syed M. Hasnain
Karachi

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2022

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