Abhijit Nadkarni, Co-director of Addictions Research Group of Sangath, seconds her views. He notes that the major challenges for mental health research in India are the shortage of funding, the focus of research in clinical settings (as against public health perspective), almost non-existent training programmes in graduate and undergraduate courses, shortage of leaders who can advocate for sustained and strategic investment in mental health research.
Nadkarni stresses that government invests in control and management of communicable diseases, maternal and child health, control of nutritional disorders and some major non-communicable diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes.
According to a 2016 study about correlation between public investment, intellectual property rights, drug pricing policies and innovation in global life-sciences, India ranked among the lowest (in the bottom five). This is due to weak intellectual property protection, lack of data protection for biologics, low investment in R&D and price regulations.
So, in order to have a world-class research ecosystem, what should the government do? “We should strengthen research training, invest in public health research and increase research funding,” he explains. “Further, we must give universities autonomy to raise research funding through other sources. Promotions of academics should be based on research outputs and not the duration of tenure. We must promote links with universities abroad and groom research leaders who have a larger vision and not just their personal research outputs. Lastly, India must also develop a national research agenda with clear time-bound milestones linked to national health priorities, funding, and outputs,” he concludes.