The 8th Winter Symposium of the Christian Medical College and the 3rd South Asian Regional Sympoisum on Evidence Informed Health Care was held from January 11 -14, 2010 with the theme 'Evidence for Better Health'. The Symposium was organised by the Prof. B.V. Moses and ICMR Centre for Advanced Research and Training in Evidence Informed Healthcare and the South Asian Cochrane Network and Centre. The main focus of the Symposium was to discuss ways in which to generate and use reliable and relevant evidence to inform healthcare in India.
The Symposium was inaugurated by Dr. Suranjan Bhattacharji, Director; Dr. George Mathew, Principal; Dr. Lalit Kant, Senior Deputy Director General, ICMR, New Delhi; Dr. David Tovey, Editor- in-Chief of the Cochrane Library and Rev. Dr. T. Arul Dhas. At the inauguration, the speakers stressed the need to develop and provide evidence that is reliable and pertinent to the health needs of India. Dr. Prathap Tharyan, Organising Secretary and Director of the South Asian Cochrane Network and Centre, gave an overview of the proceedings, and the objectives of the symposium.. Over 50 eminent resource persons including the former Union Health Minister, Prof. C.P. Thakur, the noted physician and human rights activist, Dr. Binayak Sen and others provided expertise on 'Generating Reliable Evidence', 'Contextualising the Evidence' and 'Using the Evidence'. Plenary presentations, skill building workshops and poster making sessions marked the four days of deliberation at the Symposium.
At the plenary session on January 12, Dr. Norman Swan, Host, The Health Report, ABC Radio National; Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Sydney pointed out that for evidence to result in better delivery of heath care, consumers need to be involved and informed; and policy makers should make 'the right thing the easiest thing to do'. To this end the media has a crucial role in disseminating evidence. Medical scientists need to be aware of the psychological principles underpinning the effective use of media - he stressed the power of stories and the use of succinct and memorable ' take home messages'. On January 13, the audience heard a gripping presentation by Dr. Binayak Sen, wherein he demonstrated that inequity is not a subtle phenomenon. Over 33% of the adult population is malnourished. Every three seconds one child dies of malnutrition - during the same time 1,20,000 pounds is spent on weapons. Using examples from national disease control programmes in malaria and tuberculosis and the Bhopal industrial disaster, he showed how flawed evidence and the failure to use evidence have led to the genocide of neglect. In this country, the scheduled castes, the scheduled tribes and other marginalised groups live in a perpetual state of famine.
The range of programmes - from introductory to advanced statistics, workshops and break out groups for students, talks by eminent speakers, and sessions on Evidence Based Medicine in specialities facilitated the involvement of students and faculty of all ages. The cultural programme on the opening day witnessed a much appreciated and breathtaking performance of 'Kalaripayattu', the ancient martial dance by Ranjan Mullarattt and 'Kalari', a Bangalore-based dance troupe. Congratulations to Dr. Prathap Tharyan, the Organizing Secretary and his team of organisers, faculty and sponsors for an excellent conference.