Need of Public Health Research in India
A Call for Action Improving public health is a strategic need of the country. It is widely acknowledged that improvements in health have not been commensurate with the high economic growth in India in recent years. Indian public health system is unique and one of the major weaknesses Indian health system suffers from is the lack of strong linkage between the research and practice. Documentation available on the subject is suggestive of the facts that traditionally there has been a lack of research culture in public health, and whatever limited research takes place is not well documented. The proportion of public health research continues to be relatively small and many of the leading causes of disease burden across communicable, non-communicable diseases, injuries and other health priorities continued to be under represented in the public health research output. Further, the trend analysis of public health research output shows that evaluations of population level health interventions and policies in India have been largely commissioned mostly by international organizations with limited contribution from the Indian governmental agencies. The findings urge for a serious level of attention from the government and the concerned agencies to focus on creating and incentivizing research opportunities. It is imperative that the policy and funding should respond to enhance research to achieve health for all in India. Given the increasing realization of major influence that social and environmental determinants exert of health, and poor performance of India on the global health and human development indicators, and MDGs so far, mounting triple burden of diseases and new emerging public health challenges make it pertinent that research provides strong evidence for action. It is thus the need of the hour that organizations like SERB-DST and PHFI come together and collaboratively work to provide effective stewardship for capacity building in research.
The PHRI Initiative
Given the context, SERB-DST launches the ‘Public Health Research Initiative’ (PHRI), with techno managerial implementation support and partnership from PHFI, for providing young researchers an institutional environment and financial support to pursue research in key areas of public health priority. Under this initiative, the aim is to train research scholars to facilitate work in areas of research that have the potential of transforming public health in India. The broad objectives are to strengthen and expand
the knowledge base of Indian public health research and education, help build a fleet ofyoung researchers with potential of emerging as leaders in public health who will
contribute to evidence generation through research in key priority areas for action. The programme will provide a platform for innovative research and solutions to address
health priorities and will produce break through research leading to effective solutions
and informed policy making.
Program Focus, Components and Implementation:
The PHRI initiative provides for research grants to researchers from institutions within India with public health focus, including PHFI and Indian Institutes of Public Health
(IIPH). A knowledge forum and mentoring platform will provide support to all researchers under PHRI. A total of 32 research grants will be provided over 3 years. The proposed areas proposed by the candidate would be clearly defined research areas in any aspect of Public Health such as health systems, health economics/financing, health communication,
epidemiology, nutrition etc. The research projects will be for duration of 3 years. As an eligibility criteria the applicant must possess a post graduate degree from an accredited
institution in any domain related to public health, including medical and non-medical sciences, nutrition, physiotherapy, dentistry, pharmacy, social sciences, law and
humanities. It would be desirable if applicant has a doctoral degree. Demonstrated research experience would be an advantage.
PHRI initiative will be implemented with SERB-DST as the sponsor and provider of funding support for the programme. PHFI shall be responsible for program management
and for providing technical and implementation support, including the support for the Knowledge Forum & Mentorship Program. A PHRI Steering Group, under SERB-DST will
carry out periodic programmatic progress review. The program would be shortly launched.