Undermining research

Published On: September 26, 2018 02:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

The expensive private hospitals in Kathmandu and beyond have the passion for conducting research of public health importance. The names would make us believe so, for the phrase ‘research center’ is attached to names of these hospitals. It turns out that the name is meant to deceive. According to Republica’s investigation, nearly 80 percent of hospital and research centers registered at the Office of the Company Registrar (OCR) do not carry out any research on health issues and only eight percent of them submit research studies to the government authorities. The report of Nepal Health Research Council (NHRC) shows that approximately 370 hospital and research centers are registered at the OCR. Of these, only 20 percent are carrying out research and only eight percent actually submit them. As per the rules, hospital and research centers should submit their research reports to the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), NHRC and the Ayurved Campus at Kirtipur. But they don’t. Even more concerning, when they are asked for research works, they do not even respond. This is a gross deception to public health concerns and must be dealt with as such.

After the monitoring authorities started demanding for research, some hospitals have started to remove ‘research center’ from their signboards but not all have complied. The tag ‘research center’ seems to have been used merely to fool the patients as more patients tend to visit the hospitals which also conduct research. Another reason why they did so was because the hospitals that claim to double as research centers used to enjoy tax exemption on purchase of vehicles and medical equipments and they are given five percent income tax waiver. It is revealing that Nepal’s private health institutions were fooling the government and the public only to claim additional incentives from the state. The monitoring authorities need to conduct a thorough study on such hospitals and hold them to account.

It is unfortunate that research and studies do not become subject of priority among health institutes and practicing medical professionals in Nepal. Those who do, tend to fake the research papers and present them as their own. In November last year, we had uncovered a story about doctors plagiarizing research papers to secure promotion and to get scholarships for further studies. A research paper titled, “A Prevalence of Thyroid Dysfunction in Kathmandu University Hospital, Nepal” authored by Doctors Madhukar Aryal, Prabin Gyawali, Nirakar Rajbhandari and Pratibha Aryal and published in the Biomedical Research journal in 2010 was plagiarized almost in toto in another paper titled “A Prevalence of Thyroid Disorder in Western Part of Nepal,” authored by another set of doctors. Thus it won’t be an exaggeration to say that such negligence to research is happening in many more places. The incident of hospitals claiming to be the research centers presents only one side of anomalies. Such practices need to be completely discouraged and those who fooled the people all along need to be brought to the book. If the hospitals claim to be research centers, they should also produce researches of vital importance. 

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