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ICMR incorporates data science, AI, AMR to broaden its healthcare role

The Centre has renamed and repurposed four institutes under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to broaden their scope of work by incorporating data science, artificial intelligence and Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR).

The decision was taken following recommendations made by the Performance Evaluation Committee.

As a part of the plan, the National Institute of Medical Statistics (NIMS) which came into existence in 2005 has been renamed as the National Institute for Research in Digital Health and Data Science.

The National Institute of Pathology which was set up in 1980 to collect and distribute teaching material in pathology, has been renamed as the National Institute of Child Health & Development Research given its strengths and close links with the Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi.

National AIDS Research Institute (NARI) which was constituted in 1992 has been renamed as the National Institute of Translational Virology & AIDS Research to complement the National Institute of Virology (NIV) to expand its scope beyond containing AIDS.

The National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED) which came into existence in 1979, is now the National Institute of Bacterial Infections to facilitate critical requirement to expand research in the area of AMR (Anti- Microbial Resistance).

“The ICMR Institutes have been renamed and their scope broadened, garnering approval from the Governing Council of the ICMR during its March meeting this year,” said an office memorandum reviewed by Mint.

Panel recommended changes
“There is a committee tasked with assessing the performance of ICMR. This time, the committee recognized the need to enhance and update certain institutes in terms of their focus areas. For instance, NARI was originally established to combat AIDS. However, given the significant progress made in controlling the disease, the committee deemed it necessary to expand the institute’s scope beyond HIV/AIDS,” said a government officials who didn’t wish to be named.

Similarly, the formation of a dedicated institute to address cholera was crucial in the 1960s, the official said, adding that with the availability of vaccines and treatments for cholera today, the committee proposes to redefine the roles of these institutes by broadening their areas of expertise.

“In line with the evolving healthcare sector, changes have been made to the names and mandates of ICMR institutes. Today, advancements such as AI and digital health which were not available 15-20 years ago, have become integral to our healthcare system now,” he added.

The review initiated by a Performance Evaluation Committee overseeing the functioning of ICMR “aims to analyze various aspects including infrastructure, human resources, budget allocation, research output, impact on public health programs and ways to strengthen ICMR’s contribution to address the evolving health research needs of the country,” said an ICMR spokesperson. LiveMint

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