Health activists have expressed shock over the government’s tie-up with One World Health (OWH), an affiliate of Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), for a training workshop on crisis management in clinical research for clinical trial professionals organised by the Department of Science and Technology.
Reacting to the news reported in The Hindu , Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, a national health coalition, said they were shocked and extremely concerned over the training scheduled for October 29-30 by the government’s Department of Biotechnology in collaboration with OWH, and Clinical Development Service Agency (CDSA) at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication.
Such a collaboration is in complete disregard of the 72nd Parliamentary Standing Committee report on the “Alleged Irregularities in the Conduct of Studies Using Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Vaccine by PATH in India,” a statement issued by the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan said, while demanding that the contents and recommendations of the report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee be urgently acted upon by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).
Parliamentary report ignored
Talking to The Hindu , Brinda Karat, member of the politburo of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), said she would soon write to the Ministers of Health and Family, and Science and Technology over the issue.
“This is happening because the Health Ministry has failed to take action on the recommendations of the Parliamentary report,” she said.
The report clearly articulated serious concerns over the unethical nature of the HPV trials on children in Andhra Pradesh (Khammam district) and Gujarat (Vadodara district) since April 2010 — following reports of deaths of some children — that were conducted by PATH. The National Vaccination Programme was conducted with the support of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in partnership with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the governments of Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. Vaccines were administered to 10-14-year-old girls in Khammam and Vadodara districts.
Dereliction of duty
The report points to a serious dereliction of duty by many of the institutions involved. In particular, it questions the role of the ICMR, Drugs Controller General of India, EC members and PATH and clearly recommends action by the government against violations by PATH, the statement said.