KIRAN health survey runs into rough weather

Thiruvananthapuram: The ongoing survey Kerala Information Residents Association Network (KIRAN) to determine dietary habits, physical exercise, lifestyle, disease pattern and treatment modalities covering 10 lakh population randomly, has courted a major controversy following its connection with a Candian agency.

The survey is being conducted by health department with the technical support of Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies (AMCHSS) attached to Sree Chitra Institue. Health workers have fanned out across the state to collect the details from the people.

The controversy arose after Canada-based agency Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) in its website  claimed that the Achutha Menon institute was carrying out the survey on their behalf.  During the previous UDF government's tenure, a survey called Kerala Health Observatory Baseline Study was proposed to be carried out by the same agency. However, the opposition LDF had come out with a strong protest forcing the government to abandon the move.

Many say the LDF government allowing the agency to intervene in the survey raised suspicion.

Sources said minute details of people's food habits, non-communicable diseases and treatment modalities being followed were being collected by the health works as part of KIRAN. The survey was carried out with the categorical assurance that the findings of the study would be known only to the principal investigator and coordinator.

However, with the Canada-based PHRI website claiming that KIRAN survey in Kerala was being carried out by the agency had raised serious questions. The details given in the website are similar to the current survey given by carried out by the health department.

 When contacted, Director of Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies Dr Ramankutty V, said the institute was involved in the survey right from the beginning. "There is no decision yet on sharing the data with the agency. We would be sharing the data with them only after getting the permission from Department of Science and Technology. We have already sought permission from the DST," he said .

 He said the data was currently stored in their local server. "There is no problem in technically collaborating with the agency. The agency being a research institute is into drug trials. But I don't understand how are the going to misuse the data. About 50 per cent of the survey is over and we were expecting to complete the process in two months," he added.

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