Lack of funding for top health research body

The Indian Council of Medical Research has only half the funds it needs

By Kundan Pandey
Published: Thursday 14 January 2016

Scientific achievements are often publicised by governments as their own. However, backing scientific institutions with resources, it appears, has been out of most Indian administration’s priority list.

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the apex body for biomedical research in the country has received only half of the fund needed, reveals Saumya Swaminthan, director of the institute.

ICMR is responsible for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research in the country. The body is funded by the Government of India through the Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

While talking to media on Thursday, Swaminthan said that ICMR has asked for Rs 10,000 crore for a-five-year plan from 2012 to 2017. However, it has received only fifty per cent of this amount, she said adding that the ICMR has a record of almost hundred percent expenditure.

She informed that resource crunch impacts research, saying, “We cannot be globally competitive if there is lack of fund.” She also argued that institutions plan for a research and have to wait six months for basic equipments. During this period, others conduct and complete the research, she added.

When asked if the problem has emerged under this government, she replied that the lack of funds has been an issue since 2012 and all the 32 institutes associated with ICMR have been suffering due to this.

The ICMR director is, however, hopeful with the government as prime minister has reiterated many-a-time the need to change the scientific temperament and whole system regarding research. ICMR is actively engaged with finance ministry regarding the budget, she said.

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