The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is primarily responsible for medical research in India. During the last 97 years, the ICMR has responded effectively to the changing health needs of the country by developing infrastructure and has built capacities to meet newer challenges in health research and healthcare industry of global standards.
The current health scenario in the country calls for a much closer interaction with health systems and disease control programmes supported by the continued utilization of the scientific and technological advances.
The present structure of the ICMR does not facilitate meeting of some of the challenges to its fullest potentials. In order to build upon and effectively utilize the research capacity and capabilities to engage in effective health systems research, conduct research into social determinants of health and develop technologies and products that respond to national health priorities, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has now set up a separate department of Health Research.
By setting up the new Department, the Ministry hopes to put research on the fulcrum of the Common Minimum Programme by setting up a Health Research System (HRS) as an overarching mechanism for co-ordination. The Department would provide leadership and support in generation of new knowledge, improve medical and health research in medical colleges and medical schools and help in providing inputs for operationalization of disease control programmes. It would address the manpower and infrastructure needs for medical and health research in India and assess the health technology and health sciences developed in the country and take these up at various levels of Government to translate the research results into policy and also better articulate the policies of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in furthering its programmes and policies.
The Health Research Department will be able to interact effectively with the policy makers so that the health investment policies and interventions are based on scientific input. lnter-agency partnerships and co-ordination is expected to improve through better interaction with Secretaries of Scientific Departments like the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), Department of Space, Department of Atomic Energy, Department of Ocean Development and Department of Defence Research Development. This would enable smoother transition of technologies and products developed by other S&T agencies into the health sector and avoid fragmentation and duplication of efforts. The Department would be able to build stronger and effective partnerships especially those bridging public and private initiatives and create structures such as the Technology Development Board, and others for better public private interaction for health technology implementation.