Following allegations of an international NGO vaccinating young girls against cervical cancer without their parents’ consent in Andhra Pradesh, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has asked an expert panel to review the situation.
The study has been stopped until the three-member panel files its report in two months.
The NGO PATH, in collaboration with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Andhra government, was vaccinating 14,000 girls between 10 and 14 years in the Khammam district.
In a letter to Azad dated April 6, Rajya Sabha MP Brinda Karat alleged that the girls — a majority of whom were from tribal and rural areas — were being vaccinated without getting the informed consent of their parents, which violates the basic ethical guidelines of medical research.
In her letter, Karat said the vaccinations had caused four deaths and demanded an inquiry.
“We are equally concerned about ethical consent and transparency. The secretary of health has already asked the state not to carry further vaccinations further order.
To investigate allegations of ethical violations, I have ordered an inquiry...,” Azad replied to Karat.
The panel comprises Dr Ranjit Roy Chaudhury, emeritus scientist, National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi; Dr SP Aggarwal, director-general of the Red Cross Society of India; and Dr Suneeta Mittal, professor and head of gynaecology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.