Research body cannot directly conduct study, but can fund such initiatives: Katoch

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said that medical colleges in Karnataka should study the effects of endosulfan on people, and the apex body for biomedical research will fund such initiatives.

Speaking to reporters after inaugurating a multi-disciplinary research facility at Yenepoya University in the city on Wednesday, ICMR’s Director General and Secretary, Department of Health Research, V.M. Katoch said ICMR would not directly conduct a study on the issue directly.

He said, “We are going to push studies but we want the local colleges to be PIs (principal investigators). Because that is how we can implement programmes better. And these are not one-point studies. If you find something, you have to provide a solution for that and central agencies are not fit to do that. We are there to help you, that’s all.”

The State government had sent a proposal to ICMR to study the health problems arising from endosulfan in Karnataka. ICMR is in the process of forming a group, which can join two or three local medical colleges, Dr. Katoch said.

Medical colleges should take up the issue as was done in Calicut Medical College (to study the problem in Kerala) since ICMR has nobody to conduct research, he said. ICMR officials had visited Kasaragod earlier but that was “another chapter”, which could not be repeated now in Karnataka. “Every time, you can’t depute the people from an institute that has 20 people,” he said.

According to him, “The endosulfan issue is over” and now the question was how to address people with residual problems, and ICMR is prepared to support the initiative. There were no problems with the second generation of those affected by endosulfan.

Endosulfan was banned here at the same time as in Kerala and what happened in Kasaragod happened in Karnataka also. The government of Kerala took many steps and the victims were taken care of. In Karnataka, the government has taken steps but ICMR has not done any study recently on its impact, he said.

Multi-disciplinary research units

In Manipal, Dr. Katoch said on Wednesday that the Union government was giving priority to setting up of multi-disciplinary research units (MRUs) in government medical colleges and research institutions.

He was speaking as the chief guest at the third annual day celebrations of the Manipal Centre for Virus Research (MCVR), now renamed as the Department of Virus Research, Manipal University, here. Dr. Katoch said that this was a major scheme taken up by the Union Government during the 12th Five Year Plan period to develop health research infrastructure in the country. The scheme would encourage research in medical colleges.

It would help build the gap in infrastructure, which was restraining health research in the medical colleges and assist them to establish multidisciplinary research facilities.

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