Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat has requested Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to take action against those responsible for alleged violation of guidelines in the Human Pipillomavirus (HPV) project.
In a letter to Mr. Azad, she drew his attention to an online article published in September in the World Health Organization (WHO) bulletin which concerns the the issue of HPV vaccine delivery strategies through “demonstration projects” carried out by PATH, an NGO, that, according to the article, “achieved high coverage in low and middle income countries.”
Ms. Karat said the project in India had violated the guidelines set by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Drugs Controller-General of India (DCGI) 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 recalled.
Yet, from the article, Ms. Karat pointed out, it became clear that 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 in which I was present, they categorically informed the Committee that the project had been stopped. If this is so, then for PATH to continue any part of the project is clearly illegal.
“Further, 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 the WHO about these details” she said.
The CPI (M) leader said PATH could show such scant respect to minimum ethical norms concerning publication of material of a suspended project because the Health Ministry preferred to ignore the prima facie evidence of blatant violations highlighted in the final report of the enquiry committee.