By Kounteya Sinha, TNN, The Times of India
Former Rajya Sabha member Brinda Karat has written a scathing letter to Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, drawing his attention to an article published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization on September 1 that concerns HPV vaccine delivery strategies through “demonstration projects” carried out by PATH, an NGO.
The article suggested that the project “achieved high coverage in low and middle-income countries”.
Karat stated, “You will recall that the project in India had violated the guidelines set by the Indian Council of Medical Research and the Drug Controller General of India for such projects. When I and many women and health activists had brought the details to your attention you had set up an enquiry committee. You had also informed Parliament that the project had been suspended.”
She added, “Yet from the article it becomes clear that the NGO PATH continued its operation research project even after the suspension of the vaccination programme. When the ministry officials were questioned sometime in July-August 2011 in the health standing committee meeting, they categorically informed that the project had been stopped.”
Karat said if this was the case, then PATH’s association with any part of the project was illegal.
“I am sure you will agree that it is entirely unethical and also misleading for the parties involved to use data gathered through flawed, irregular methods in violation of the regulatory procedures in India, in an international publication to “prove” how vaccine acceptability among populations of low income countries can be established. The government has a duty to inform WHO about these details,” she added.