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‘We will monitor your progress’

September 24, 2023
The Star
5 mins read

Annual allocations to university teaching hospitals must show research outcomes, says Khaled

THE 10 university teaching hospitals (HPUs) in the country are not merely a place to train and teach the best talents in the medical field or provide quality services to the public.

They also bear the responsibility of stimulating various research activities and the best research collaborations.

Their progress, said Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, will be continually monitored by his ministry (MoHE).

“MoHE’s annual allocation to each of these hospitals is large, such as its RM400mil allocation to Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) every year.

“So, it’s about time we see the results, which are not only producing doctors and specialists, but also important research and innovations,” he told reporters after officiating the UMMC Research Carnival Opening Ceremony at the medical centre’s South Tower Auditorium on Sept 12.

Commending the medical centre for organising the inaugural carnival themed “Evidence-based Medicine Towards Quality Care and Hospital Efficiency”, Mohamed Khaled said his ministry has emphasised to all higher education institutions (HEIs), including HPUs, to not only produce graduates, but also take part in research and innovation.

He expressed hope that the carnival will be organised every year and will involve the participation of the other HPUs, making it a university project for the country.

“We live in a world that currently prioritises partnership rather than competition, given the challenges and lack of resources. If UMMC wants to lead a research exhibition, then the other nine HPUs should join in.

“MoHE wants each institution to be proud of its research and innovation outcomes. We want them to not shy away from presenting their work to the people and the country.

“With MoHE’s allocations to them every year, they are called to show what they have produced,” he said in his speech during the event.

He added that his ministry has channelled significant allocations for fundamental research every year, as well as emphasised research on AI as it is developing rapidly.

Citing the creation of new innovations and various disruptive technologies that are no longer driven or pioneered by universities and education institutions, but by industry and giant technology companies, Mohamed Khaled said education and medical institutions, such as UMMC, cannot be in the business-as-usual mode and only work together among themselves.

He urged UMMC to establish close cooperation with industry, especially in doing research together.

“Synergies must be built strategically, especially with large companies that are currently driving and pioneering the development of technologies and innovations, such as artificial intelligence and robotics,” he said. In line with this, he added that MoHE will introduce new approaches to joint research between industry and universities.“Next year, we will start providing research matching grants between universities and industry. This will encourage industry to work closely with universities to conduct research. What is important is from there, universities can share research outcomes via spinoffs, startups and royalty,” he said.

To that end, he said the ministry will prepare a strategic paper focusing on a review of its policies related to startups under HEIs, and a more effective strategy and injection to boost these startups as a valuable contributor to the country’s economy.

In his speech, Mohamed Khaled also urged UMMC to focus on research and findings that can ensure access to, and the quality of, the best medical services can be strengthened and expanded.

“Our focus should not only be on medical findings, but also include various governance innovations that can modernise and improve the efficiency of medical services,” he said.

He also emphasised that all critical research findings must be shared with all relevant parties.

“If there are research and innovation outcomes, either in technology, practice or service improvement, MoHE will make sure they are shared and used by other HPUs.

“We want all the results of our research and studies not only to be returned to the community in the form of benefits, but also to be used between institutions. If there are services and technologies that have been developed by UMMC, MoHE will not hesitate to ensure other HPUs adopt and use them,” he said.

At the event, Mohamed Khaled also witnessed the document exchange of the collaboration agreement between the Malaysian Research Accelerator for Technology and Innovation (Mranti) and UMMC.

Representing the parties were Mranti acting chief executive officer Khairil Anuar Sadat Salleh and UMMC director Prof Dr Nazirah Hasnan.

Mranti, which is Malaysia’s central research and innovation commercialisation agency that accelerates ideas to market, has chosen UMMC as a health technology hub in its effort to accelerate the commercialisation of health technology products by providing exposure and support for startups in the health field.

Through the collaboration, UMMC will be given access to a wider network of healthcare technology companies under Mranti.

In her speech, Prof Nazirah said evidence-based medicine is the wisdom of using the latest scientific research results in determining healthcare-related decisions or management.

“As a leader in medical education in Malaysia, UMMC is determined to drive excellence in the field of clinical research and dignify the institution through recognition and application of education, healthcare and research,” she said.

During the ceremony, Mohamed Khaled also launched the “UMMC Patient Journey” mobile application before being taken for a tour of the exhibition at the carnival.

The application, which has been developed in stages since January 2022, recently wrapped up its first phase and is expected to reach full completion in the third and final phase in Dec 2026.

The development of the application is aimed at reducing over-the-counter services and promoting the use of a cashless payment system as a step forward to empower the use of digital services in the healthcare sector.

Held from Sept 11 to 15, the research carnival included a series of workshops and a two-day symposium.