Call to save fledgling research interests

Aloysius Xavier Lopez

To provide cutting-edge medical aid to the underprivileged

Doctor sent abroad to visit advanced medical research laboratories

CHENNAI: Just two days after a liver transplant was performed at Government Stanley Hospital, doctors who made it possible appealed to Health Minister M.R.K. Panneerselvam to intervene and save their fledgling research interests from the constraints of red tape.

As part of its initiative to provide the benefit of cutting-edge medical research directly to the people deprived of medical intervention for want of funds, the hospital with the consent of the government has been trying to establish research contacts and collaborations with advanced research institutes abroad.

Some months ago, it had sent a doctor abroad in order to visit advanced medical research laboratories to study the prospects of using the knowledge in creating an advanced research centre for stem cell culture for liver transplantation at the hospital. The Department of Health had given oral permission for the study abroad.

However, it was delaying the ratification of the decision and as a consequence, the doctor had been deprived of salary for three months, the team of doctors informed the Minister during his visit to the hospital on Saturday.

It may not be possible to extract good medical research work from the doctors if “small administrative delay” becomes constraint to research interests, one of the doctors told Mr.Panneerselvam while making the representation.

Absence of doctors

Principal Secretary Health V.K.Subburaj said that the department was only taking efforts to curb the practice of exceeding the permissible limits of stay by doctors in a foreign country, as patients suffered in the absence of doctors in government hospitals.

The doctors, however, said the Health Department should consider the importance and long-term benefits to patients of such a visit with a good research intention.

The research centre would be the first ever stem cell research centre for liver in the government sector in Tamil Nadu.

Funding approved

The Indian Council for Medical Research had approved the project in April last year with a funding component of Rs.15 crore. The State government had sanctioned Rs.5 crore for the advanced research centre.

The research centre would start full-fledged research in six months and help hundreds of patients with acute liver diseases lead a normal life, said Principal Investigator of the project R.Surendran.

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