LAHORE - The three-day international conference on “Health Psychology: Issues and Challenges” concluded at the Government College University on Friday.

The moot ended with recommendations to the government, academicians and departments concerned to broaden the scope of health psychology, define standards of training of health psychologists in Pakistan and create jobs in hospitals, think-tanks and educational institutions especially schools for the qualified health psychologists.

“All the speakers at the conference have empirically emphasized on the role of religion, mysticism, and spirituality in preserving physical and mental health in the healing process,” said Dr Syeda Shahida Batool, the Conference Chairman, while addressing the concluding ceremony chaired by Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) Chairman Prof Dr Nizamuddin

More than 600 scholars and faculty members from 35 universities of Pakistan and delegates from Germany, the United Kingdom and Canada participated in 15 scientific sessions of the conference jointly organized by the GCU Psychology Department, PHEC, Higher Education Commission (HEC) and Punjab AIDS Control Program.

The speakers also deliberated upon organising the Pakistan Association of Health Psychology and launching a research journal on health psychology in Pakistan for which world renowned psychologist and author Dr Christopher Lweis promised to provide his expert services.  Addressing the concluding ceremony, Prof Dr Nizamuddin laid a stress on indigenous research on health psychology, saying that that every society and culture had its own particular requirements, so it must not be tried to be fitted into the developmental concepts derived from Western experience of tradition-modernity-postmodernity. Prof Nizam said there were peace, tolerance and security on the GCU campus in comparison to other universities because this university had strong traditions, culture and a system of student societies i.e. debating, drama, quiz etc. which kept students engaged throughout the year in healthy activities of art and culture. The PHEC chairman said that this system was needed to be replicated in other universities as well. 

Dr Richard Dr Visser from University of Sussex, UK said that his interaction with Pakistani psychology students during the conference was phenomenal, and he himself had learnt a lot from them. He said that there was strong realization in the world to focus on health psychology to modify human behaviors that have been implicated in the chronic illness, relieve pain and reduce stress.  Vice Chancellor Prof Hassan Amir Shah expressed gratitude to PHEC Chairman for the technical support and funding for the conference. He said that PHEC was organized just three years ago and it had already started making healthy contribution for the promotion research activities in the universities of Punjab.  However, he said, the federal Higher Education Commission had been established 15 years ago and the contribution, it had made in development of universities, through its funding was remarkable. In 2004, the total number of research papers that were produced by the universities in Pakistan was just 800, and these figures have crossed 12,000 last year.

The vice chancellor hoped that universities in Punjab would benefit from both the federal provincial higher education commissions. 

GCU Dean Faculty of Social Sciences Prof Dr Tahir Kamran also addressed the closing ceremony of the conference. He said that the papers presented at the conference would add to their understanding that how psychological, behavioral and cultural factors contribute to physical health and illness of individuals.