Greetings from Samarth !
The year 2019-20 went off quietly with only a couple of small projects. We had a new collaborator this year. We were surprised to receive a mail from a Assistant Professor at the department of Global Health, Heidelberg University to assist his team for a study on hypertension to be carried out in Chennai. We were happy to know that he was impressed with our work by reading on our website and wanted Samarth to carry out the qualitative interviews for the study.. It was an interesting study and the research team at Chennai along with the team from Heidelberg visited the different zones in Chennai to recruit participants for the interviews. The study is completed and the analysis is ongoing by the team at Heidelberg University. We look forward to the study findings and participating in manuscript writing for journals.
The other collaborative study was with Psychiatrist who was interested to explore and understand perceptions of different stakeholders on Autism Spectrum disorders (ASD) and their challenges in identification, diagnosis and barriers to early intervention. We are in the process of carrying out interviews and focus group discussions with parents and different categories of health care providers.
We find that Samarth is being approached by scientists and researchers with different specialties. Hypertension and ASD are new areas for us at Samarth! However, our skills are in methods of quantitative and qualitative research and we so we are always open and excited to learn and expand our knowledge. We are glad that we could be involved in such new areas of research topics.
One of the disappointing news we received this year was that our proposal on intervention for depression among pregnant women which we submitted to National Institute of Health (NIH) was not funded. We have now revised the proposal and submitted to UKRI-MRC (United Kingdom Research and Innovation – Medical Research Council). We are keeping our fingers crossed!
This year we also made a major decision to disband our institutional review board (IRB). The reason for this due to ICMR's new guidelines that requires review board's of institutions' to meet mandatorily every 3 months. Samarth is a small organization with not more than four or five research studies in a year and it was not possible for us to schedule meetings every three months. So we made the hard decision of disbanding Samarth's IRB. We also entered a memorandum of agreement with Schizophrenia Research Foundation who have kindly consented to review our research proposals in their IRB. I thank Dr. Padmavathy, Director, SCARF for this kind gesture. My profound appreciation for all the distinguished members who served on our IRB and thank them for their valued contribution while they served on the board.
Our yearly workshops are well received and we find that the number of individuals who want to register is increasing every year. The department of Social work, University of Texas wants to have training on research methods every year from now on and we carried out the training for the second batch of students this year.
Thanks to all our governing body & advisory board members and our auditors for your continued support and guidance.
Looking forward to the next year !