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NGO urges human rights body to probe infant deaths

delhi Updated: Aug 25, 2008 23:09 IST
Satya Prakash
Satya Prakash
Hindustan Times
NGO urges human rights body to probe infant deaths at AIIMS

A Delhi-based NGO on Monday moved the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) seeking its intervention to investigate the death of 49 children during clinical trials at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in the last two-and-a-half years.

Uday Foundation For Congenital Defects & Rare Groups (Trust), whose RTI query led to the disclosure of the deaths, drew the Commission’s attention to news reports that some of the drugs tried on children were actually meant for adults.

Foundation Managing Trustee Rahul Verma attached a copy of the AIIMS’ response to his RTI query, according to which the 49 children who died during clinical trials of new medicines in AIIMS said it was violation of the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

According to the response given by the Department of Paediatrics, AIIMS, 4,142 children were used for clinical trials of new drugs and therapies since January 1, 2006 and 2,728 of them were under the age of one.

Verma said he was seeking intervention of the NHRC because he did not have faith in the internal inquiry of AIIMS.

Terming it as ”complete eyewash”, Verma told HT: “Health Minister A. Ramadoss has virtually given a clean chit to the Department of Paediatrics of AIIMS even before the inquiry committee started its work.”

Ramadoss had reportedly supported the institute’s stand that the children might have died of natural causes.

“It is a serious matter of influencing the ongoing work of the committee,” the NGO said in its petition wondering if former Head of Department of Paediatrics Dr Veena Kalra was being questioned by the internal inquiry committee.

The NGO has requested NHRC to seek a series of information from AIIMS, like the condition of each of the 49 kids at the time of their admission to the hospital, summary of clinical trials conducted on them, reasons of death, copy of the approval taken from their parents and copies of the consent form.