New Lancet series on metabolic health in SEAR region likely

There’s growing awareness of the need to incorporate patient voices even in scientific journals, says expert

September 08, 2022 02:09 am | Updated 02:09 am IST - Chennai

Marta Koch, Editor, Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. File

Marta Koch, Editor, Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. File | Photo Credit: S.R. Raghunathan

A Lancet series on metabolic health in the Southeast Asian region is in the works, Marta Koch, Editor-in-Chief, Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, said.

In Chennai, along with Shalini Garg, Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet Regional Health – Southeast Asia, Dr. Koch hopes to learn about the actual inequities that impact healthcare delivery. She is embedded with the Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre (DMDSC) and is visiting their outreach programmes to get a grounding on the realities of healthcare. “It's just a great opportunity for me to you know, come out of my editorial ivory tower, to come to India and to come to Chennai, specifically, to be able to have high level discussions in person, but also to meet the people behind work, to see what is going on at the field level,” Dr. Koch said.

The metabolic health series, which is in the planning stage, is a consequence of the experiences she and her colleague have had while on this exposure trip. “We have a domestic diabetes, endocrinology programme, in addition to the regional health Southeast Asia chapter. But we have been discussing with Dr. Mohan, founder-chairman, and Anjana Ranjit Mohan, managing director, DMDSC about this interesting collaboration on metabolic health. It is still in the early stages but we are excited about it,” she said.

In a chat with The Hindu, Dr. Koch spoke freely about the growing awareness of the need to incorporate patient voices even in scientific journals. While this beneficiary point of view has assumed much significance post the pandemic, it was way back in 2019 that Dr. Koch and colleagues announced in the journal that the, “In Focus section has now been expanded to include Patient Perspectives and Patients’ Voice — informal, conversational-style pieces authored by patients or patient advocates, respectively”.

She further said the reason why research is done in the first place is to improve the lives of patients, so patients with lived experiences must be heard. “So we are very keen to have a new format, where we can offer a platform for people who have the lived experiences, but are also perhaps unable to express these voices by themselves — people in neglected settings in resource limited settings, challenging situations. We have freelancers that are working with us, to help them because we feel everyone should be heard, should have the opportunity to communicate their experiences.” She doesn’t see a conflict that might arise in such a circumstance with The Lancet’s demand for rigour in its scientific publications, “This is a different format…and we feel it's all about education, about raising awareness on diabetes.”

Even as concerns about getting reliable data from different regions in the world are relevant, Dr. Koch and Dr. Garg talk about the prudence of being able to work with available data, conscious of limitations, but use scientific tools to make sure that data can contribute towards influencing government policy on health issues.

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