EDITORIAL: Focus on research

The policymakers should also consult experts engaged in the field of research and studies before taking any decision in any of the areas that impact the larger population

Developed countries spend a sizable amount of money in research and development activities that prepare the governments, their institutions and even the private sector to take appropriate decision in advance in the field of science and technology as well as in the social sector.

The developing countries, including Nepal, lack a culture of research work due to poor institutional capacity and resources required for innovation.

Scientific research in any field, say health or socio-economic issues, gives a clear overview of the present situation and scientific guideline for the government and policymakers as to how to deal with the problem facing the nation.

But sad to say, the government does not allocate adequate budget for any kind of social and scientific research; it is least bothered about strengthening the existing research wings of universities, government departments and other agencies formed solely to focus on research.

Nor does it put into practice researches and analyses carried out by its own institutions.

The National Health Research Council (NHRC), for example, is a government-funded research wing dedicated to the health sector. Nepal Academy of Science and Technology is another government research wing whose purpose is to develop science and technology through technological research and innovation.

There are several research institutions within universities and councils under various ministries.

Whatever researches and studies they have done or must have done are rarely implemented by the government due to “resource crunch” and institutional incapability, leading to brain drain of the country’s talented pool.

There must be coordination among the government-funded research wings, agencies and departments and various departments of universities if any credible researches and studies in any discipline were to be carried out and implemented in a time-bound manner.

It is research that gives the government a clear picture of how to move ahead in the given discipline.

Despite many constraints, the NHRC, for example, has been doing its research works well in the field of health, population and environment.

It has so far carried out research and studies in 11 disciplines, including air pollution and respiratory health effects in the Kathmandu Valley, blood lead level among children, adolescent nutrition, health and population, outbreak of viral influenza and measles in selected districts.

Based on these researches the government must formulate its policies and programmes to deal with the threats identified by the findings.

The policymakers should also consult experts engaged in the field of research and studies before taking any decision in any of the areas that impact the larger population.

The NHRC report has said that around 40 percent patients were admitted to hospital due to respiratory tract infection and around 30 percent people were admitted because of pneumonia. It shows the seriousness of air quality in the Valley.

It is all because of haphazard urbanization, industrialization and heavy concentration of polluting vehicles in a small area like the Kathmandu Valley.

The NHRC report can be a useful tool for the government to take action to minimize the health threats.

White elephants

Many public enterprises (PEs) fail to deliver better services to the public. The PEs should take steps for their own growth as well as provide better and timely service.

Many regions, particularly in the remote districts, face food deficit. It is up to the Nepal Food Corporation to see to it that there is an adequate stock of food which should be distributed in an efficient manner.

But sadly this is not the case, for many people have no access to foodstuff. The corporation should immediately deliver food to the food deficit areas. It also has to make arrangements related to sales and procurement of staple food like rice.

Similarly, there is a perennial shortage of even daily essentials like salt and sugar. The PEs like the National Trading Ltd and Salt Trading Corporation have failed miserably in ensuring their supply at a fair price.

Moreover, the Nepal Oil Corporation appears to be unable to supply the needed amount of fuel and also cooking gas whose demands are higher during the winter.

This calls for the revamping of the PEs to resolve these hurdles and benefit the consumers.