Communist Party of India (Marxist) MP Brinda Karat has asked the Union government to intervene in the case of the death of four tribal girls in Andhra Pradesh, who were vaccinated under the special human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) programme that is being implemented by a non-governmental organisation in several districts of the State.
In a letter to Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ms. Karat registered her protest against the programme, which she described as an example of a “worst practice” programme that raised many questions.
“There are also reports of fairly widespread side effects that the other girls who were administered the vaccine were suffering from.
“Whereas it is not my purpose at all to spread panic or to question the intentions of the people concerned, I do believe the entire programme calls into question the lack of precautions, the lack of monitoring of those who have had the vaccine which directly concerns the safety of our children, and most important of all, it proves that such programmes cannot and should not take place outside the public health system,” she said.
The HPV vaccination programme was started in Khammam district in August 2009.
According to Ms. Karat, there was virtually no pre-information or campaign before the actual vaccination. In fact, a woman warden of a government gurukul school's hostel — where the deaths occurred — objected when she was told that the HPV was being administered on a trial basis the first time. She informed the parents, but clearly this could hardly be called “informed consent,” Ms. Karat pointed out.
‘Set up inquiry'
Describing it as a “shocking criminal negligence” on the part of the authorities to permit such a large programme outside the public health service system, Ms. Karat asked Mr. Azad not to let the programme be implemented in other areas.
“Also, I request you to set up your own inquiry into the deaths of the tribal girls and also into the side effects of the vaccine on other children, so that responsibility can be fixed and appropriate action taken by the State government, including compensation to the families who have lost their children and to the children suffering side effects,” she said.