‘Doctors should be more involved in research’

HEALTH DG Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has called on local medical practitioners to be more involved in research, apart from contributing through service.

He said the Health Ministry (MoH) has invested a lot in the past few years to cultivate clinical research in the country through the setup of nonprofit company Clinical Research Malaysia (CRM) in 2012 and by bringing in cutting-edge facilities.

“MoH has invested a lot in research in this country, as can be seen in the setting up of CRM that is engaged in a lot of clinical trials in the form of industrial support research (ISR).

“Our hospitals are now used to conducting research as we have the facilities to do phase one research,” Noor Hisham told reporters after witnessing the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signing between CRM and Korea’s C&R Research Inc.

He added that the government is trying to encourage more local doctors to embark on research activities as a way to develop the healthcare industry in Malaysia.

“We are trying to encourage our doctors to be involved in research and are working on a bottom-up pathway for them to not only participate, but lead in clinical research,” Noor Hisham said.

He further noted that MoH is currently in the middle of reviving the Institute of Medical Research to be a global centre of research in tropical medicine.

The government via CRM, has established a public-private partnership with Geneva-based Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) in 2016, to work on bringing the cost of treatment for hepatitis-C down from US$80,000 (RM355,640) to US$300 by the end of this year.

Noor Hisham said the unique collaboration with DNDi acted as a public-private partnership module that works on a common goal to make medicine affordable and accessible to 50 million people around the world.

“The cooperation with DNDi is at a global level and the partnership between CRM and C&R Research is regional. We hope to establish more collaboration with regional and global organisations in order to undertake more research in the region,” he emphasised.

CRM CEO Dr Akhmal Yusof said since its inception in 2012, the government-owned company has conducted more than 800 ISR — which have given local medical practitioners the opportunity to understand new areas and provide options for treatment.

Meanwhile, South Korean Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Yu Hyun-seok said the signing of the MoU serves as a stepping stone in achieving a win-win development in bilateral clinical cooperation between the two countries.

“Malaysia is doing well in medical tourism and Korea has its own strengths in skincare and IT-based medical devices which are quite advanced not only to Asia, but in the world.

“That is why our countries’ health ministries are expediting this signing, because we would like to synergise our strengths in this field,” Yu said.