April 7, 8:20 PMVaccines ExaminerNorma Erickson
World Health Day is celebrated today, March 7, 2010, in order to recognize the thousands of urban health champions who have taken action and had a significant impact on health in their cities. Hundreds of people gathered today in Dehli, India to witness some of these champions making a difference.
No less than 58 public health organizations, health networks, medical professionals, human rights groups, and women’s groups in India took the opportunity to hold a press conference aimed at expressing their intense opposition to the “unethical nature” of the ongoing HPV vaccination ‘project’ being conducted in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.
They presented a formal letter of protest to the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
This letter outlines the fact that 14,000 girls, ages 10-14, belonging to poor families were enrolled in a two year study to assess the feasibility of introducing HPV vaccines in India. Merck and GlaxoSmithKline were to provide the vaccine. This ‘project’ was jointly sponsored by PATH (a nongovernmental organization), the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), and the respective state governments funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
According to documents provided by these 58 groups, the literature circulated in the ‘project’ makes outright false statements about the vaccines safety, efficacy, and duration of effectiveness. The girls and their parents were told through the project documents that the vaccine will give life long immunity, has no side effects other than minor ones like fever and rash, and will not affect future fertility of the young girls.
When deaths and serious adverse reactions started being reported, local groups in Andhra Pradesh became alarmed and went on a fact finding mission.
They found access to post mortem reports difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. Cover-up seemed to be the general response. Two of the deaths were shockingly written off as suicides when the evidence clearly suggests otherwise.
According to the extensive documentation compiled by the fact finding mission, of the 14,000 girls vaccinated, there have been 4 deaths and 120 reports of serious adverse reactions including, epileptic-like seizures, severe stomach ache, severe headaches, mood swings, early onset of menstruation, heavy bleeding and severe menstrual cramps.
The current ‘project’ has no follow up mechanism in place for girls who suffer from adverse events following vaccination. This vaccination ‘project’ is being conducted in areas that do not have access to even minimal health care facilities. There is no place for these girls to get the pap smears that are mandatory follow-up even for those who face no adverse reactions.