ICMR to get more funds, power

the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has set up a new department for health-related research. The unit aims at setting up a mechanism for coordination among government agencies to help achieve the goals set by the national health policy. The Department of Health Research will be autonomous.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (icmr), which coordinates health research programmes, has often been accused of not being able to translate the benefits of its research into policy and action.

It also has no jurisdiction to interact with state governments and agencies outside the country. Review committees of the icmr in 1968, 1984 and 2005 stressed the need to give more power to icmr. With the announcement that icmr will be a component of the new department, it will have more power and funds. Anbumani Ramadoss, the union health minister, announced a fivefold increase in funds available to the department.

The new unit will be headed by a secretary. Although a secretary has not been appointed yet, there is speculation that the present director general of icmr, N K Ganguly, will assume the post.

The department will have 10 responsibilities. These include promoting basic, applied and clinical research, including clinical trials; providing guidance on is s ues such as ethics of research; providing training and grants of fellowships in India and abroad; international cooperation in research and providing technical support for dealing with epidemics and natural calamities.

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