Leslie Carol Botha: How is it that a large international organization can skew the data to push a mass vaccination program to protect women against cervical cancer? This is immoral and unethical. Health activists in India have been fighting this issue for many years.
PATH’s claim of India’s large burden of cervical cancer faulty: study
June 26, 2012
A recent study has shown that the current available data on human papillomavirus (HPV) type and cervical cancer incidence do not support the epidemiological claims made by the Programme for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) regarding India having a large burden of cervical cancer.
In April 2010, the Indian Council of Medical Research suspended research on the feasibility and safety of HPV vaccine in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat amid public concerns about its safety. The study was being done for two pharmaceutical companies by PATH and was supported by the ICMR.
The paper, published in the latest edition of the Royal Society of Medicine Journal is written by I. Mattheji and P. Brhlikova of the University of Edinburg and A.M. Pollock and Queen Mary University of London, describes cervical cancer and cancer surveillance in India and reviews the epidemiological claims made by PATH.
The PATH, a U.S.-based not-for-profit non-governmental organisation undertook post-licensing observational studies on HPV vaccines in India on coverage, acceptability, feasibility and costs of the vaccines in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Cervical cancer is estimated to cause around 2,74,000 deaths a year, approximately 80 per cent of which occur in the developing world. Guidelines for cervical cancer screening are implemented in few States in India. HPV is associated with cervical cancer and of the 100 HPV types, 18 have been categorised as high risk types or possible high risk types for cervical cancer. HPV types 16 and 18 are said to account for approximately 70 per cent of all cervical cases in India.
According to the latest study, there is no general account in the literature of cancer surveillance in India. The two main agencies involved in reporting incidence, prevalence and mortality of cervical cancer in India are the National Cancer Registry Programme (NCRP) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
The latest study says that PATH does not cite any of the cancer data on Andhra Pradesh or Gujarat. There is no NCRP or other cancer registry in Andhra Pradesh, and neither C15 (Cancer Incidence in five continents) nor GLOBOCAN (global database across the world) published data for this State. Age-adjusted incidence rates are 10.16 in Hyderabad and 14.29 per 1 lakh in Nellore (2001-02).