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Times Of India
29 Dec 2012
Pune, India.

Union health and family welfare minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Friday that more than Rs 10,000 crore were earmarked for the department of health research and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in the 12th Plan, almost five times the funds allocated in the 11th Plan.

He said that under the 12th Plan, the ministry aimed to establish multidisciplinary research units in 150 government medical colleges and a network of 250 laboratories at regional, state and district levels to manage epidemics.

He was speaking at a function organised to inaugurate the bio–safety level 4 (BSL–4) laboratory at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pashan.

Azad said that health has been given a central position in the 12th Plan and the outlay for health, including health research, has gone up substantially.

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"Other projects the ministry would focus on in the 12th Plan include setting up of 50 rural health units at the block level and providing aid to researchers for projects involving development of affordable technologies, reagents and method of public use. Steps will be planned to strengthen the existing ICMR institutes and set up new centres in deficit areas, to update standard treatment guidelines regularly, benchmark and accredit health research institutions and support human resource development to produce qualified researchers," the minister said.

Azad added that the NIV has played a major role in studying diseases of national and international concern like SARS, avian influenza, besides the influenza A H1N1 pandemic. The WHO has designated NIV as a collaborating centre for emerging diseases, national influenza centre and H5 reference laboratory.

He said that the laboratory network was being strengthened in the country. As many as 16 new laboratories — 14 BSL–2 and two BSL–3 — have been set up to work on viral diseases and tuberculosis. The number of laboratories working on research has gone up from two to 46 in a span of one year.

Director general, ICMR, and secretary of department of health research V M Katoch, National Disaster Management Authority member J K Bansal, NIV director A C Mishra and state forest minister Patangrao Kadam were also present.

The BSL–4 laboratory at NIV is the country’s first laboratory with such high grading and unique capacity of testing highly infectious and dangerous viruses.

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