Funding needed for research

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PAPUA New Guinea Institute of Medical Research (PNGIMR) director Prof William Pomat has requested Government funding to enable them to conduct research into all fields.
He said this in response to Prime Minister James Marape’s statement in the media this week on the lack of action in studying the coronavirus (Covid-19).
Marape was critical of the institute’s failure to study the Covid-19 in relation to Papua New Guinean immunology since cases of the virus were first recorded in the country last year.
“PNGIMR, I am yet to see a good, complete submission from you that says ‘I want to do research’,” he said.
Prof Pomat said Marape’s statements was an encouragement for the institute to communicate its research findings regularly and to access research funds through the Government as well as international research grants.
“My request now is for the Government to set aside dedicated research funding, say 2 per cent of all revenue, to be managed by the Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology or the Science, Research and Technology Secretariat to enable researchers to conduct relevant research in all fields,” he said.
He said the institute realised that Marape was not aware of all its research activities on the Covid-19 and other life-threatening diseases in PNG.
“Our institute is very active, despite the challenges that Covid-19 has imposed on operations in the last 18 months, including reassignment of some staff to conduct Covid-19 testing and awareness in some provinces,” Prof Pomat said.
“The only funding allocated to PNGIMR by the government for the Covid-19 has been to support testing and not research.”
Prof Pomat said to enable national research institutions and universities to access funding for the Covid-19 and other research, the Government would need to create a governing body that was annually funded and had the capacity to screen, conduct independent review and select proposals based on scientific merit and track record.
“The institute has commenced 11 research projects on preventing, testing and treating Covid-19 infections and minimising the negative impacts of the pandemic,” he said.
“PNGIMR is also continuing to carry out its mandated role of conducting research into other diseases that are of public health importance to PNG.”
Prof Pomat said the institute’s research on the control of diseases such as malaria, elephantiasis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, polio, cervical cancer, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections that were leading causes of death in PNG continued to be conducted to high standards.
He said the institute had made submissions to the National Executive Council for infrastructure development in Madang and funds to maintain sentinel surveillance sites in each region of Papua New Guinea.
“The laboratory infrastructure will increase our capacity to conduct health research and to ensure that the outcome of these researches is translated into policy and the policy implemented to improve the health of Papua New Guineans,” he said.
“The sentinel sites will provide longitudinal data on disease trends and capture important health indicators to achieve milestones set by the Government.”

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