KARACHI - Vice Chancellor, Jinnah Sindh Medial University Prof Dr Tariq Rafi has deplored that no credible data and research on local diseases and their causes is being conducted in Pakistan, which is seriously hampering the formulation of national strategies in dealing with burden of diseases and their management and urged Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) to compel pharmaceutical companies to initiate local studies to ascertain causes, treatment, management and prevention of ailments in Pakistan.

Prof Tariq Rafi said while talking to newsmen after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Clinision, an internationally-acclaimed Contract Research Organization for promotion of digital research in the field of healthcare.

“Most of the studies in the medical literature deal with diseases which are very common in Europe and America but the medical literature arriving from the West has very little information on local diseases and their causes. For instance mouth cancer is very common in Sub-continent including Pakistan but European medical books have no or little data on it,” he added.

Under the MoU signed between the Clinision and Jinnah Sindh Medical University (JSMU), the internationally-acclaimed contract research organization will provide a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) compliant digital data-capturing software ‘eTrials’ to the JSMU medical students and researchers, its training and related technical support so that research could be conducted in a paper-less environment without wasting precious time and resources involved in the digitalization of data and its analysis.

Prof Tariq Rafi also expressed remorse over lack of national registries of various diseases, especially cancer and said due to lack of credible data and statistics, doctors and physicians were compelled to rely on foreign data, which had no local relevance at all. “In case of oral cancer, it is the second most common type of cancer in Sub continent but internationally it is on eighth number while there is no mentioning of use of beetle nuts as its main cause in European and American health studies”, he informed.

JSMU Vice Chancellor said keeping in view these issues, their varsity had established a department of research and within a few years of its inception, JSMU faculty and researchers had got at least 256 articles published in the local and international journals in 2017 alone. “We are offering monetary incentives to the researchers who are getting their articles published while those not doing any research would be deprived of annual increments”, he warned.

According to him, lack of time and resources was the biggest hurdle in conducting research in the field of medicine and healthcare but hoped that with the technical support from the Clinision, JSMU would be able to create a culture and environment of research at its campus while this would also result in nationwide competition in the area of healthcare research.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Clinision Syed Jamshed Ahmed said their organization had selected the JSMU for provision of internationally-acclaimed eTrials software to help local researchers, especially students to use the modern technology and promote a culture of scientific research at the varsity’s campus.

“We can also help JSMU in getting funds from Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), which collects the 2 percent profit from all the pharmaceutical companies for conducting research in Pakistan.

 DRAP has millions of rupees lying idle in its account but this money can be used if some good research projects are submitted to the authority for funding”, he observed.

Pro-Vice Chancellor JSMU Prof Dr Lubna Baig said they were already involved in conducting a nationwide survey on ‘violence against healthcare workers’ and hoped that technical support from Clinision would help them in gathering timely data and research.

Director Clinision Dr Masood Jawaid said eTrials would go researchers get rid of paper-based cumbersome work and hoped that researchers and faculty of the JSMU would get maximum benefit from their technical support in conducting research.