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Following a complaint from RSS affiliate Swadesh Jagran Manch, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Wednesday asked the Union Health Ministry to look into the allegations that the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine for cervical cancer that it plans to introduce countrywide soon has adverse health effects.
HPV is associated with more than 80 per cent cervical cancers. Data from the national cancer registry shows that in 2013, 92,731 cases of cervical cancer were reported in India, a figure that is projected to go up to 1,00,479 in 2020.
According to the sources in the Ministry, the country’s highest decision making body on vaccines was soon to meet to take a call on the introduction of the vaccine in the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP). In a letter to the Prime Minister, SJM’s national co-convener Ashwani Mahajan said, “It is our concern that this programme will divert scarce resources from more worthwhile health initiatives diverting it to this vaccine of doubtful utility and that its adverse effects will erode confidence in the national immunization programme and thereby expose children unnecessarily to the risk of more serious vaccine-preventable disease.” “Swadeshi Jagran Manch requests you to stop this move to introduce Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine in India and we recommend the strongest action against groups that pervert science, which brings ignominy to the scientific community in the country and sells the country to vested interests,” the letter said. It also cited the 72nd report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee which has slammed the Indian Council Medical Research, Drug Controller General of India, Ethics Committee members, and PATH for the unethical manner in which the clinical trial of the HPV vaccine was conducted. SJM claimed that the vaccine was used in an unethical trial by PATH, ICMR and Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK), which was associated with the death of many tribal children in Andhra Pradesh. Alleging unfair promotion of the vaccine, Mahajan said, “The journal ‘Cancer’ described how authors from PGI Chandigarh falsified science published by others, in an attempt to show that $14/child for the vaccine is cost-effective.”
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