On June 29, 2013, Pakistan Nutrition and Dietetic Society (PNDS) organized a full day 'PNDS Nutrition Research Symposium: 2013' in Karachi, Pakistan, to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the Society. Around 200 health care professionals attended the Symposium. In the past the training of nutritionists and dietitians in Pakistan has primarily emphasized on clinical competencies rather than on developing research capabilities. However, PNDS recognizes the importance of nutrition research relevant to the cultural context of the country and encouraging a research culture among the nutrition and dietetics professionals. The Symposium aimed to:
Help the participants understand the basics of conducting research
Provide a platform for nutrition professionals to share their research findings and experiences
Develop expertise to critically evaluate published researches in the field of Nutritional Sciences
Develop a cadre of researchers to inform, educate and alleviate the problems associated with malnutrition in Pakistan
The prime purpose of the Symposium was to bring together early career scientists and experienced mentors from Pakistan to explore and debate the issues relating to nutrition research, and to understand the cultural and socioeconomic barriers in conducting research. The intention of the organizers of this symposium was to provide a learning ground by exchanging ideas among colleagues and to develop mutually beneficial research links to identify new, sustainable solutions to chronic malnutrition through research and development.
The symposium program included welcome address by the PNDS Honorary Life-time President, Dr Salma H. Badruddin, who emphasized on the importance of critical and analytical thinking for doing research and reminded the young researchers that computers and software programs are just tools - the important thing is the “Brain” using the computers. The Chief Guest of the program, Dr Fatema Jawad, Chief Editor, Journal of Pakistan Medical Association reiterated on the importance of nutrition in medicine and health sciences and how it can be beneficial in the prevention of diseases. She suggested that PNDS senior members should provide training and opportunities for their younger members to look at the nutrition related problems in Pakistan and provide solutions to build the health of the nation.
The scientific program included the Plenary Lecture by Dr Nilofer Fatimi Safdar, Director Nutritional Science Program, School of Public Health, Dow University of Health Sciences and PNDS President on 'The Importance of Research: Putting Pakistan on the Nutritional Map’. The presentation highlighted some of the gaps and challenges in nutritional surveys, research and interventions in Pakistan because of lack of nutrition experts in the team. She illuminated some of the ways in which nutrition professionals can change the health science landscape in Pakistan. She concluded her talk by encouraging young nutrition scientists to take help from the PNDS senior experts in developing research abilities. Dr Fatima Mir, Pediatrician researcher from the Aga Khan University shared her thoughts on translating clinical experiences of nutrition professionals into publications. Her talk included simple tips for young researchers to start and eventually finish a manuscript. Dr Syeda Kanwal from School of Public Health, DUHS, spoke on how to critique a research article? She also enumerated various guidelines that a keen scientific reader can use to recognize good quality research papers.
There were number of oral and poster presentations by young researchers on various health related topics. Few are listed:
‘Perceptions on Infant Feeding Practices of Women in Balochistan’ by Ayesha Zahid Khan from Aga Khan University, Karachi
‘Risk Factors for Gestational Diabetes Mellitus in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome’ by Maleeha Mohsin of the Indus Hospital, Karachi
‘Compliance with Use of Micronutrient Sprinkle for Children aged 6-24 Months: The Qualitative Aspect’ by Shelina Aamir of the Aman Foundation, Karachi
The Best Oral Presentation certificate was presented to Ms. Tooba Lateef from Jinnah University for Women for her topic ‘Effects of Flavonoids in Apricots on Hyperlipidemia’. The Best Poster was given to Ms. Sidra Sirajuddin on ‘Eating habits of Children of Home Economic mothers versus non Home Economics’ from The Tabba Heart Institute. The symposium concluded with acknowledgment to the organizers and supporters.
Dr Nilofer Fatimi Safdar
Nutrition Program Director, School of Public Health
Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi
Past President (2011-2013) PNDS, Country Rep ICDA
Guests and participants of Nutrition Research Symposium: 2013
Scientific and Organizing Committees, PNDS Research symposium: 2013