Students, faculty will be mentored in evidence-based medicine

Students and faculty of Manipal University will soon be mentored in evidence-based medicine, following the university’s linking with the Cochrane Collaboration, B. Unnikrishnan, professor and head of Community Medicine, Kasturba Medical College Mangalore, told The Hindu.

He was speaking after the inauguration of the Public Health Evidence South Asia (PHESA), a satellite centre for the Cochrane Collaboration, at KMC, Manipal, on Saturday.

The Cochrane Collaboration (www.cochrane.org/), named after Archie Cochrane (1909-1988), a British epidemiologist, is an international network across 100 countries whose members place updated evidence from medical research online for the use of healthcare providers, policymakers and patients. In evidence-based healthcare, a decision is made for the care of a patient or health services are implemented based on current best evidence sourced from up-to-date valid research, patient values and clinical expertise. PHESA South Asia will work towards public health interventions in populations of south Asia.

Srinath Reddy, president, Public Health Foundation India and the World Heart Federation, who inaugurated PHESA, said it was important to carry out multiple studies for more precise estimates so that the best evidence could be presented to policymakers. Quoting Louis Pasteur, he told students to temper enthusiasm while getting evidence with “strict verification as their constant companion.” Dr. Unnikrishnan said Manipal University had identified 10 to 15 faculty members and 15 students from the KMC in Manipal and Mangalore to be mentored in evidence-based medicine so that they could be part of the Cochrane Collaboration. The mentors are medical doctors and statisticians with experience in evidence-based public health.

Sreekumaran Nair, professor and head, Department of Statistics, Manipal University, and director, PHESA, said that the network consolidates research to see what works and what does not work at the population level (not at the individual level) and brings the best evidence to the table of policymakers. It works at influencing policy and studies policy already implemented such as whether the policy on banning tobacco or using unleaded petrol has indeed improved the health of people.

In the process, the Cochrane network could establish a platform for constructive dialogue between the research community to update policymakers with products of research.

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