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Why in news?

  • Stating that the number of COVID-19 cases in India is registering a rise, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is now advising the feasibility of using pooled samples for molecular testing of COVID-19.
  • ICMR has said that, for India, it is critical to increase the numbers of tests conducted by laboratories.

About ICMR

  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research and it is one of the oldest and largest medical research bodies in the world.
  • The ICMR is funded by the Government of India through the Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • The governing body of the council is presided over by the Union Health Minister.

How does ICMR Function?

  • It is assisted in scientific and technical matters by a scientific advisory board comprising eminent experts in different biomedical disciplines.
  • The board, in its turn, is assisted by a series of scientific advisory groups, scientific advisory committees, expert groups, task forces, steering committees etc. which evaluate and monitor different research activities of the council.
  • The council promotes biomedical research in the country through intramural as well as extramural research. Over the decades, the base of extramural research and also its strategies have been expanded by the council.

History of ICMR formation

  • In 1911, the Government of India set up the Indian Research Fund Association (IRFA) with the specific objective of sponsoring and coordinating medical research in the country.
  • After independence, several important changes were made in the organisation and the activities of the IRFA.
  • It was redesignated as the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in 1949, considerably expanded scope of functions.

What research does ICMR conduct?

The council’s research priorities coincide with National health priorities such as: Control and management of communicable diseases, fertility control, maternal and child health, control of nutritional disorders, developing alternative strategies for health care delivery, containment within safety limits of environmental and occupational health problems; research on major non-communicable diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, blindness, diabetes and other metabolic and haematological disorders; mental health research and drug research (including traditional remedies).

June 2024