KARACHI - Sindh Provincial Minister for Health and Population Welfare Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho on Saturday laid down the foundation stone of girls’ hostel at the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi.

Sindh government has approved Rs55 million initially to fund the project of the hostel that will comprise on around 20,000 square feet land.

Speaking at the ceremony, held at the Prof Salimuzzaman Siddiqui Auditorium, the minister announced that the government will setup Sindh Serology and DNA Forensic lab at the Dr Panjwani Centre for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD) of the international centre.

Dr Azra maintained that the Sindh Health Ministry had also recognised the Industrial Analytical Centre of the HEJ Research Institute as one of the key drug testing laboratories for pharmaceutical products. She hoped that both of these projects will help the provincial government to implement law and order and rules and regulations on concrete scientific basis.

Talking about another project, the minister said that she was also working closely with the scientists of the ICCBS towards the establishment of a new centre for regenerative medicine which would help in translating the existing stem cell research into clinical applications. This first ever regenerative medicine centre in Pakistan will have a large GMP facility for the large-scale production of stem cells for the treatment of burn patients, she added.

To a question, the minister said that they continue to work towards increasing access to health care, improving the quality of health care services and aligning our research institutions to the national health care needs. “We are working hard to continue major programmes initiated in one decade by the provincial government,” she said.

Talking about the excellence of the ICCBS, she said: “I am really impressed by the quality of research infrastructure and high level of expertise of the scientists at the ICCBS.”

Prof Dr Muhammad Ajmal Khan said that the University of Karachi had been a big challenge for him and his administration. He observed that the university required more active involvement of the Sindh government so that the pace of progress at this largest national institution could be accelerated.

He said that last year as many as 17,000 research papers of scholars from the university were published in national and international journals. Dr Atta-ur-Rahman informed the participants that he had recently met with the Prime Minister Imran Khan.

He said that he presented the PM various recommendations for the promotion of higher education in the country, with particular focus on science and technology.

He said like Singapore and China, Pakistan needs to focus on developing its human resources in key areas. He pointed out that the development of human recourses in China had become the single most important engine for its economic growth.

Pakistan needs to focus its endeavors largely establishing a strong knowledge based economy so that the country could enter a new phase of development, he suggested.

Prof Iqbal Choudhary said that setup of the girls hostel will increase the access to higher education for bright female students from remote areas of the country to the world-class institution of the ICCBS.

He pointed out, “With the single largest doctoral programme, and state of the infrastructure, this centre represents the best of Pakistan's science to the world.”

Nadira Panjwani said that Dr Panjwani Centre was playing its due role in promotion of molecular medicine and drug research. She said that establishment of the Sindh Serology and DNA Forensic lab at the PCMD showed the significance and scholastic eminence of Dr Panjwani Centre in the country. In the end, Dr Farzana Shaheen presented vote of thanks.

Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Muhammad Ajmal Khan, former Federal Minister for Science and Technology and former Higher Education Commission chairman, Prof Dr Atta-ur-Rahman, Chairperson Dr Panjwani Memorial Trust Nadira Panjwani, ICCBS Director Prof. Dr Muhammad Iqbal Choudhary and Prof Dr Farzana Shaheen of ICCBS also expressed their views in the ceremony.