Tribal girls died due to extraneous reasons, says ICMR chief

Says death unrelated to pilot project on vaccination of adolescents against cervical cancer

April 25, 2010 01:58 am | Updated 01:58 am IST - HYDERABAD

Director-General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) V.M. Katoch has said there was a “weak” link between the recent death of some tribal girls reported in Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh and the pilot project taken up by an NGO on the vaccination of adolescent girls against cervical cancer.

The deaths were found to be unrelated to the programme and caused by extraneous reasons such as falling in a well, he told The Hindu on the sidelines of World Laboratory Animal Day celebrations at the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) here on Saturday.

Yet, Dr. Katoch said, he decided to stop the pilot project, to which the ICMR was a signatory, immediately after reports of the girls' death. He was eager that truth should come out and allegations of ethical violation, if any, should be investigated.

The ICMR chief added that the council would stress tribal health to coincide with its centenary celebrations next year. It would launch a drive to address problems of malnutrition, high blood pressure, hypertension and peculiar cancers faced by tribal population, especially in Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and north east.

Seven ICMR institutions, including the Regional Medical Research Centre for Tribals at Jabalpur, would look into the situation.

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