- NETWORK PROGRAMMES
- CONFERENCE AND NETWORK MEETINGS
- OTHER PROGRAMMES AND ACTIVITIES
The Inter-Islamic Network for Tropical Medicine (INTROM) was set up in 1987. Its member countries include Algeria , Egypt , Iraq , Malaysia , Niger , Pakistan , Senegal and Turkey . The inaugural meeting of the INTROM, which was held in Kuala Lumpur the same year, was attended by officers from the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment Malaysia, the Institute for Medical Research (IMR), Kuala Lumpur and the Secretariat of the Islamic Foundation for Science, Technology and Development (IFSTAD).
Several priority areas were identified, of which health was identified as one such priority area; INTROM focuses specifically on tropical medicine.
Several activities and network programmes have been planned and will be carried out either at the national or international levels. However, these activities need to be reviewed and the number of programmes ought to be increased. This can only materialize if there is greater commitment, cooperation and collaboration from the member countries. It is envisaged that all the member countries of INTROM with the hope that all the members of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH) and IFSTAD would participate and be more actively involved in the activities that INTROM is able to offer.
The Executive Committee of the Secretariat include the following Office Bearers:
- Director: Dr Amal Nasir bin Mustafa (Epidemiology Unit, IMR)
- Secretary: Mr Mohd Fuat bin Abdul Razak (Bacteriology Unit, IMR)
- Treasurer: Mrs Norsiah binti Md Desa (Biochemistry Unit, IMR)
- Members: Dr Zakiah binti Ismail (Herbal Medicine Research Centre, IMR)
- Mrs Zawiah Ahmad (Nutrition Unit, IMR)
- Dr Lokman Hakim bin Sulaiman (Parasitology Unit, IMR)
- Dr Norazah Ahmad (Bacteriology Unit, IMR)
- Dr Azizah Mohd Radzi (Biotechnology Centre, IMR)
- Dr Noor Rain Abdullah (Bioassay Unit, IMR)
POSTGRADUATE DIPLOMA COURSES
(Diploma in Medical Microbiology-DMM, and Diploma in Applied Parasitology and Entomology-DAP&E)
The above postgraduate diploma courses, each of six months duration, were initially sponsored only by the South-East Asian Ministers of Education Organization for Tropical Diseases (SEAMEO-TROPMED). These courses were organised by and held at the Institute for Medical Research, Kuala Lumpur , Malaysia . Currently, apart from SEAMEO and MTCP, the other sponsors include: the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Commission (EC), the South Pacific Commission (SPC), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank.
HERBAL MEDICINE AND PRODUCTS
Research in herbal medicine and its related products has become a priority in the research agenda not only for the Institute for Medical Research, but also for the Ministry of Health Malaysia .
Some of the on-going projects are as follows:
- The Malaysia-MIT Biotechnology Partnership Programme on Natural Products. (The 2 plants currently being worked on are as follows: Eurycoma longifolia and Centella asciatica)
- The WHO-TDR MOH project is working towards developing a new anti-malarial drug. (This will include all chemical constituents of herbal extracts as well as from the pure compounds extracted not only from herbal plants grown in Malaysia and but also from those which are grown in other countries).
- Projects initiated nationally under the Natural Product Discovery. (Researchers from research institutes and universities are involved here. The herbal plants that are being investigated are as follows: Andrographis Paniculata and Labisia spp)
- The setting-up of information hubs for Traditional and Complementary Medicine (TCM) together with the Commonwealth Working Group on TCM.
CONFERENCE AND NETWORK MEETINGS
A Short Course on "IDB-COMSTECH-INTROM-IMR Training Workshop on Herbal Medicine Research"
This workshop was conducted from 1-6 April 2002 at the Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research, Kuala Lumpur , Malaysia . The Institute for Medical Research organised the event. The theme for the workshop was "Medicinal Plant Screening for Anti-Malaria". The workshop included lectures and hands-on practical. The hands-on practical was mainly on the biological assay of plant extracts for anti-malarial properties. The resource persons who conducted the lectures and practical sessions were from the Herbal Medicine Research Centre (HMRC), IMR. The workshop was partly supported financially by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), which is based in Jeddah , Saudi Arabia .
A total of 10 participants from OIC countries namely Pakistan , Sudan , Senegal , Mozambique , Iran , Indonesia and Malaysia attended the workshop. They were scientists and technicians from government institutions and private companies; they were selected on the basis that they were about to embark into the areas of Natural Product Discovery, specifically in the area of biological screening.
The objectives of the workshop were:
- to disseminate knowledge and skills on bioassay procedures;
- to determine the activities of active bio-molecules, in particular for the anti-malaria activities using the Plasmodium lactate dehydrogenase assay (pLDH);
- to disseminate knowledge and skills on the methodology for elucidation of mechanism of action of the extracts to the malaria parasite and their in-vitro toxicity to normal cell lines;
- to exchange knowledge and experience amongst the participating countries; and
- to establish contact and collaborative research projects.
It was anticipated that the participants, with knowledge acquired in the workshop, would be able to perform research on herbal medicine more effectively in their respective countries. It was also anticipated that collaborative research would be initiated between Malaysia and other countries in terms of new technology in herbal medicine research.
The Executive Director of INTROM attended and presented a paper on the initiation and achievements of Inter-Islamic Network on Tropical Medicine (INTROM), Malaysia at the "Inter-Islamic Network Meeting" of Executive Directors of Inter–Islamic Networks, Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH). The meeting was held at the International Centre for Bio-saline Agriculture (ICBA), Dubai , United Arab Emirates (UAE) on 25 th June 2002 .
The meeting was also attended by the Deputy Minister from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, UAE, ICBA management and its staff members, the Executive Secretary of COMSTECH and all the Executive Directors of the Inter-Islamic Networks, namely, the Inter-Islamic Network on Water Resources, Development and Management (INWRDAM), Jordan, Inter-Islamic Network on Genetic Engineering and Bio-Technology (INOGE), Egypt, Inter-Islamic Network on Space Sciences and Technology (ISNET), Pakistan, Inter-Islamic Network on Bio-saline Agriculture (INBA), UAE, and Inter-Islamic Network on Oceanography (INOC), Turkey.
The meeting discussed and deliberated on several issues, namely, the need for regular meetings of the Executive Directors of the Inter-Islamic Networks, COMSTECH and the Islamic Development Bank; strengthening of Inter-Islamic Networks by COMSTECH; membership and membership fees; funding for R&D programmes; updates on different network activities between the 7 Inter-Islamic Networks; preparation and sharing of databases; and statutes of different Inter-Islamic Networks.
The meeting proposed several recommendations, of which were included the following: the participants of the meeting agreed that the annual meeting of the different networks should be held for interacting network activities; R&D projects should be prepared that are object-oriented. COMSTECH would help in forwarding project proposals and it should follow-up with the relevant agencies; activities should initially be targeted locally and then gradually it should expand to the other member countries; the networks should try to get funds from the host country or from other sources, especially from private enterprises. COMSTECH could supplement funding for defined activities if sound proposals were forwarded to its office well in advance; all networks should up-date its web-sites/pages regularly highlighting network activities. These web-sites should also give information regarding other network activities and events; all documents (reports, newsletters, etcetera) of network activities should be sent to policy-makers in their respective countries to create awareness and gain support.
OTHER PROGRAMMES AND ACTIVITIES
1. The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC): Conference on Scienceand Technology, Kuala Lumpur , Malaysia
The Academy of Sciences Malaysia, in collaboration with the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment Malaysia, the OIC Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Malaysia organised a Scientific Conference entitled "Science and Technology for Industrial Development in Muslim Countries: Facing the Challenges of Globalization" from 7-9 October 2003 in Kuala Lumpur. The INTROM, Institute for Medical Research (IMR) sent 4 officers to participate in the conference.
2. Hands-on Workshop on "Phytochemical Analysis and Determination of Markers in Medicinal Plants", IMR, Kuala Lumpur , Malaysia
The INTROM organised a hands-on workshop on "Phytochemical Analysis and Determination of Markers in Medicinal Plants" for about 15 participants from OIC member countries from 16-20 February 2004. The objectives of the workshop were to familiarize participants with sample processing and extraction techniques, phytochemical analysis using chromatographic techniques and determination of markers in herbal products. The current practice of determination of markers using phytochemical analysis as well as instrumentation was considered.
Medicinal plants and herbal medicine are important areas to consider for developing new chemical entities and pharmaceutical products. In developing countries, crude extracts are still being used even though fractions and isolated compounds are now available to add value to the end-products. In order to verify claims of the presence of bioactive components, markers should be determined using chromatographic techniques such as High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), Gas Chromatography and Thin Layer Chromatography and spectroscopic techniques. In recent years determination of plant-markers using "chromatographic fingerprinting" a technique currently being used to determine the authenticity of herbal products has become a very important aspect in the herbal industry worldwide. Participants, with acquired knowledge from the workshop, should be able to perform research on medicinal plants and in herbal medicine in their respective countries. It is hoped that collaborative research would be initiated between Malaysia and other countries in terms of new technology in medicinal plants and herbal medicine research.
3. The 41st Annual Scientific Seminar of the Malaysian Society of Parasitology and Tropical Medicine
COMSTECH Inter Islamic Network on Tropical Medicine (INTROM) participated in the 41 st Annual Scientific Seminar of the Malaysian Society of Parasitology and Tropical Medicine, which was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 10 to 11 March 2005. The theme of the seminar was "Natural Products in the Management of Tropical Diseases".
INTROM sponsored two scientists from the Traditional Medicine and Materia Medica Research Center (TMRC), Shaheed Beheshti University, I.R. Iran to participate in the seminar. They were Dr Mahmoud Mosaddegh and Dr Farzaneh Naghibi. Dr Mosaddegh presented two scientific papers on "Iranian Traditional Medicine" (in the plenary session)) and "TMRC Research Program on Biological Effects of Medicinal Plants of Iran" while Dr Farzaneh presented a paper on "Introduction of Iranian Ethnobotanical Information System". INTROM was also represented by its Executive Director, Dr Amal Nasir Mustafa, who chaired the plenary session. Dr. Noor Rain Abdullah who is a Council Member of INTROM and also the President of the Malaysian Society for Parasitology and Tropical Medicine delivered the keynote address on "Natural Products in the management of tropical diseases". A total of 5 plenary papers, 35 oral presentations and 26 posters were presented over the two days seminar, which covered different topics related to natural products and management of tropical diseases.
4. The 3rd International Congress on Traditional Medicine and Materia Medica, Kuala Lumpur , Malaysia , 14 – 16 August 2007
The congress will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 14–16 August 2007. INTROM was identified as one of the co-organizers together with Ministry of Health Malaysia, Traditional Medicine and Materia Medica Research Center (TMRC) Shaheed Beheshti Medical Science University, I.R. Iran and Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences (IOMS), Kuwait. The Congress will be supported by several other international agencies including COMSTECH.
In preparation for the organization of the congress two scientists from TMRC I.R. Iran i.e., Assoc Prof Dr Farzaneh Naghibi and Dr Mahmoud Mosaddegh were appointed as members of the main Organizing Committee of the "The 3 rd International Congress on Traditional Medicine and Materia Medica 2007". Both of them attended the first meeting of the Organising Committee, which was held at the Institute for Medical Research, Kuala Lumpur on 8 March 2005.
5. Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia is the New Member of INTROM
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been officially accepted as a new member of the Inter Islamic Network on Tropical Medicine (INTROM) on 28 February 2005. The current members are Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Malaysia, Niger, Pakistan, Senegal and Turkey.
On behalf of INTROM and COMSTECH, we would like to thank the government of Saudi Arabia. We hope with a bigger number of membership particularly with more OIC member countries becoming members of the network, the INTROM will grow from strength to strength and will help the secretariat to plan more activities that INTROM will be able to offer to scientists from member countries.
6. MALAYSIA Contributes US$50,000 to INTROM for year 2006
The Government of Malaysia has contributed US$50,000 for the year 2006 for the activities of the Inter Islamic Network on Tropical Medicine (INTROM). This annual mandatory contribution from the host country Malaysia will assist INTROM in arranging string of scientific activities for the promotion of tropical medicine during the year 2006. Since the establishment of INTROM under the COMSTECH of OIC in 1987 at the Institute for Medical Research (IMR), Malaysia it has been actively engaged in developing knowledge-based culture for the promotion of herbal medicine and related products widely available in the OIC member countries. Through various workshops and research activities INTROM has been instrumental in strengthening health–related education and services across OIC member countries through increased awareness of herbal medicine.
7. INTROM to organize an International Training Workshop
The Inter-Islamic Network on Tropical Medicine (INTROM), which is a specialized network of the OIC Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH) on Tropical Medicine will be organizing an International Training Workshop on Hybridoma Technology in Tropical Diseases with the theme: Production and Characterization of Monoclonal Antibodies: Laboratory Principles , from 27 – 31 March 2006 at the Institute for Medical Research (IMR), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This workshop is organized in collaboration with Islamic Development Bank (IDB), COMSTECH, Institute for Medical Research (IMR) and Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Malaysia . Participants to this workshop will be selected from the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) member countries.
Monoclonal antibodies are important biological reagent that is widely used for the development of sensitive and specific diagnostic tools as well in various immunological studies. Hybridoma technology can be applied in small laboratories with basic cell culture facilities for the production of these monoclonal antibodies. This workshop intends to transfer the technology on small scale production of monoclonal antibody for research purposes, using parasite as model.
The objectives of the workshop are to disseminate knowledge and skills on hybridoma technology for application in tropical diseases, focusing on production of monoclonal antibodies against specific antigen and characterization and sub-typing of the antibodies. Therefore at the end of this workshop, the participants are expected to understand the principles of hybridoma technology and production of monoclonal antibody and have hands-on practical experience on maintenance of cell culture; screening for antibody production; hybrid selection; cloning and cryopreservation technique. They are also expected to have enough knowledge and skills to start monoclonal antibody production in their own laboratory and to foster close professional relationship and productive collaborative research in the area among the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) member countries.
8. The 12th Session of the General Assembly of COMSTECH, OIC, Islamabad , Pakistan , 21– 23 February 2006
The twelfth meeting of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH) was held at Islamabad , Pakistan from 21-23 February 2006, under the Chairmanship of H.E. Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Co-Chairman COMSTECH. Over two hundred and twenty five delegates participated in the meeting. Thirty five member states of OIC were represented in the meeting. Several international organizations were also invited and participated in the meeting.
Among the highlights of the meeting were presentations of reports by the Coordinator General of COMSTECH and organizations under the OIC and COMSTECH. They are OIC itself, Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), Islamic University of Technology (IUT) and various institutions established by COMSTECH namely Islamic Academy of Sciences (IAS), Inter-Islamic Network on Biotechnology (INOGE), Renewable Energy (INRES), Oceanography (INOC), Space Sciences (ISNET), Tropical Medicine (INTROM), Water Resources (INWRDAM), Biosaline Agriculture (INBA), and Information Technology (INIT) . Dr Amal Nasir Mustafa, Executive Director of INTROM attended and presented the report on INTROM activities in the meeting. His presentation and INTROM report for the year 2004-2005 can be downloaded by clicking on the links.
The 3–day meeting was conducted smoothly, efficiently and successfully. The meeting was officially closed by H.E. Acting President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
It ought to be emphasized that expertise in tropical medicine is available at the IMR and also in other institutions of member countries. Therefore, a more comprehensive mechanism may be worked out whereby the resources may be beneficially tapped and effectively utilized to improve health care systems.
Prepared by: the Executive Committee, INTROM