(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
April 18, 2010
'Govts Responsible for
HPV Vaccine Related Deaths'
CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and Rajya Sabha member Brinda Karat has held both the AP state government and the UPA government at the centre responsible for the reported deaths of four young tribal girls due to administration of HPV vaccine in Andhra Pradesh recently. She demanded a thorough inquiry into this affair and fixing of responsibility.
As part of her tour of tribal areas in the state, she visited Khammam district recently. She focussed on knowing about the ill-effects of the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine as also the implementation of NREGS, Tribal Forest Rights Act etc.
An American NGO, taking the services of health department of the government of Andhra Pradesh, administered HPV vaccine to nearly 14,000 girls aged between 10 to 14 years. These girls belonged to ST, SC and Muslim communities and are studying in tribal welfare and social welfare residential schools. This vaccine was given on a trial basis to these girls in three successive doses. It is intended to prevent cancer of cervix in adult age. The administration of vaccine or a drug to minor patients inevitably needs prior consent of parents. But in this case it was not taken. Moreover, around 5 per cent girls suffered with headache, body pains, rash, vomiting and mild fever as side effects. It has been alleged in the print media that four girls died due to this vaccination. The government of Andhra Pradesh allowed the American NGO to make use of staff of government health department in Khammam district to hold the campaign of vaccination. They gave three-day training to the health staff in the district. They said that this vaccine would prevent the cancer of cervix, and would be given free of cost as a charity to these poor girls. They said the total cost of the vaccine is Rs 9000 i.e Rs 3000 for single dose.
Brinda Karat spoke to the victims and their family members to know the details of the issue. She was accompanied by AIDWA leaders Swarupa Rani, Hymavathi, and Renuka, district CPI(M) leaders P Sudharshan Rao, B Ravi Kumar and S Rajaiah and state secretary of AP Girijana Sangam, Midiyam Babu Rao. She visited Yerragattu village of Bhadrachalam rural mandal where she consoled Sode Mudharaju and Maramma whose daughter Sodde Saiamma studying in class 9 allegedly died due to vaccination. The people of this remote village were surprised to see a national level political leader coming down to them and enquiring about the death of a girl. She also visited Anjipaaka village of Dummagudem mandal to enquire about the death after vaccination of Kudumala Saritha, again a class 9 tribal student. She visited the tribal welfare girls hostel at Lashminagaram village where Saritha was vaccinated. Here, the hostel warden himself signed the informed consent forms of all the girls without bothering to inform the parents of the girls. A total of 287 girls were vaccinated here.
While in the village, the CPI(M) leader also assessed the implementation of Tribal Forest Rights Act and REGA. She sat with beneficiaries, mainly tribal women, in an interactive session to find out the facts. She visited the work place and enquired about their remuneration, working conditions and facilities provided etc.