Govt. to focus on world-class research on health: Kerala CM

Salim Yusuf, cardiologist and epidemiologist, presented Kairali Global Achievement Award

August 04, 2023 07:49 am | Updated 07:50 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Kerala needs a health research policy which is different from the national policy because the health issues faced by Kerala are unique, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said.

He was inaugurating the two-day international conference on Biomedical translational research, organised by the State Higher Education Council, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Health Sciences and Technology and Kerala Medical Technology Consortium here on Thursday.

Mr. Vijayan said that though Kerala was on par with many developed nations as far as the indicators on health fronts are concerned, health research in Kerala had remained at an abysmal low. The government’s intent and focus would be on improving the State’s potential for world-class research in health. In recent times, many health issues have been coming up in Kerala to which serious health researchers need to pay more attention. Chronic diseases and non-communicable diseases are rising at an alarming pace in Kerala, he said.

Economic inequities, a growing population of the elderly and the increased need for developing special care facilities for the State’s geriatric population are some of the newer challenges rising for Kerala.

It is important that the healthcare system reinvents itself constantly with the infusion of fresh knowledge and that it uses this new wisdom to solve the real life problems of people. This is how translational research becomes one of the crucial areas where the State will have to make serious investment, Mr. Vijayan said.

The basic cause or pathology of many health issues in Kerala continues to elude researchers. The government thus intends to improve the research facilities in the medical colleges and other higher education institutions in the State so that more research can be done on the State’s specific challenges, he added.

It is important that research becomes an integral part of medical education. The government is also striving to establish more multidisciplinary research labs in biomedical institutions in the State so as to equip these institutions to conduct basic research on infectious diseases which continue to be one of the major challenges in the State.

The government has already taken the first steps to set up a Centre of Excellence in genomics research, with biobanking and big data facility, Mr. Vijayan claimed. Such research institutions need the guidance and wisdom of world-class researchers like Salim Yusuf, world-renowned cardiologist and epidemiologist, in McMaster University, Canada, who is originally from Kottarakara, Kerala, Mr. Vijayan, said.

The government is in the process of devising a programme, titled “Brain Gain” wherein erudite scholars from the West like Dr. Yusuf would be invited to offer their knowledge and assistance, he said.

Mr. Vijayan said that the State has a huge repository of medical data, which would be made available to medical researchers with strict privacy clauses. He presented the Kairali Global Achievement Award to Dr. Yusuf at the function. Health Minister Veena George presided over the function.

Minister for Higher Education R. Bindu said the government’s policy would be to build a knowledge economy which touches human lives.

James Spudich, Professor of Medicine, Stanford University; Rajan Gurukkal, Vice Chairman KSHEC; Mohanan Kunnummal, Vice Chancellor of Kerala University for Health Sciences, C. Padmakumar, Special Officer, Kerala Medical Technology Consortium and the Director of SCTIMST Sanjay Behari, spoke on the occasion.

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