‘AP schools prodded to sign up for HPV vaccine project'

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 10, 2011 Published on May 10, 2011

The Andhra Pradesh Government ‘violated ethical standards' of research by authorising schools to sign consent forms on behalf of adolescent tribal girls for HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine ‘trials' for prevention of cervical cancer.

Calling for stern action against those involved, people's health organisations such as Jan Swasthya Abhiyan released copies of the letter issued by a senior AP health official to the Integrated Tribal Development Authority (ITDA) on June 2, 2009, at a press conference here.

The letter by Mr P. Mohan Rao, Deputy District Medical Health Officer, Bhadrachalam, asked ITDA to “issue orders to all hostel wardens and ashram schools to sign the consent forms on behalf of adolescent girls to have the vaccine, as contacting parents will be difficult in agency area.”

The letter further seeks “necessary instructions to education, ICDS and private schools to support the ongoing efforts by the health department in smooth implementation of cancer cervix vaccination programme in Bhadrachalam agency area.”

It may be recalled that 23,000 adolescent girls (ages 10 to 14) were vaccinated against HPV in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat in 2009. The ‘trials' were part of a project approved by Indian Council of Medical Research in 2007, and implemented by US-based NGO, PATH , to ‘study' the prospects for its inclusion in the universal immunisation programme.

The vaccine is manufactured by multinational drug firms Merck and Glaxo SmithKline and is licenced for sale in India. After the death of seven girls in the two States, allegedly after taking the shot, and the resultant uproar, the Centre stalled the project. It set up a probe committee, which has submitted its report recently.

Three members of the committee have cited instances of ‘serious violations' of ethical standards in the report, which is not yet in the public domain, said the health activists.

Published on May 10, 2011
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