Cen­tre Shuts Gate on Bill & Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion

In­dia delinks its vac­cine pro­gramme ad­vi­sory body from Mi­crosoft founder’s phi­lan­thropy out­fit; con­cerns over ‘ties’ with pharma MNCs

The Economic Times - - Front Page - Anub­huti.Vish­noi @times­group.com

New Delhi: The Cen­tre has shut the gate on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion on a crit­i­cal na­tional health mis­sion, and pos­si­ble con­flict of in­ter­est is­sues aris­ing from the foun­da­tion’s “ties” with phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies is one of the rea­sons.

All fi­nan­cial ties of the coun­try’s apex im­mu­ni­sa­tion ad­vi­sory body, Na­tional Tech­ni­cal Ad­vi­sory Group on Im­mu­niza­tion (NTAGI), with the Gates Foun­da­tion have been cut off. NTAGI Sec­re­tar­iat will be now fully funded by the cen­tral gov­ern­ment, the health min­istry con­firmed to ET.

NTAGI’s Sec­re­tar­iat was so far be­ing ser­viced through the Gates

Im­mu­nised From In­flu­ences?

apex ad­vi­sory body on im­mu­ni­sa­tion, lo­cated at Gates Foun­da­tion-funded ITSU (at PHFI) through a 2012 MoU

Foun­da­tion-funded Im­mu­niza­tion Tech­ni­cal Sup­port Unit (ITSU) at the Pub­lic Health Foun­da­tion of In­dia (PHFI).

ET has learnt that the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion was in­formed by, among other fac­tors, ar­gu­ments from se­nior med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als and out­fits like Swadeshi Ja­gran

Manch. Con­cerns raised by mem­bers of the steer­ing group of the Na­tional Health Mis­sion and the Sangh-af­fil­i­ated out­fit cen­tred around “con­flict of in­ter­est is­sues” in the NTAGI-Gates Foun­da­tion re­la­tion­ship.

There were ques­tions about the Gates Foun­da­tion’s ties with phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies and the pos­si­ble in­flu­ence this may have on the coun­try’s vac­ci­na­tion strat­egy.

Global Pol­icy Fo­rum, an in­de­pen­dent pol­icy watchdog that seeks to pro­mote ac­count­abil­ity in in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions, raised some of these con­cerns in a study in De­cem­ber 2015.

The study, called ‘Phil­an­thropic Power and De­vel­op­ment -Who shapes the agenda?’, had cau­tioned on “the grow­ing in­flu­ence of the large global phil­an­thropic foun­da­tions, es­pe­cially the Bill & Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion, on po­lit­i­cal dis­course and agenda-set­ting in tar­geted fields, and fully an­a­lyse the risks and side ef­fects — in­tended and un­in­tended — of these ac­tiv­i­ties on sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment”.

Gates Foun­da­tion spokesper­son Su­nil Ra­man con­firmed that the NTAGI Sec­re­tar­iat had shifted out of ITSU. NTAGI mem­ber NK Arora and PHFI also con­firmed the de­vel­op­ment. Mem­bers of the steer­ing group aren’t au­tho­rised to speak to the me­dia.

Swadeshi Ja­gran Manch’s na­tional co-con­vener Ash­wani Ma­ha­jan told ET, “We wel­come this move by the gov­ern­ment. We have al­ways said for­eign in­flu­ence in our do­mes­tic poli­cies in any way must be avoided.” NTAGI will now be moved out to the fully gov­ern­ment-funded Na­tional In­sti­tute of Fam­ily Health and Wel­fare (NIFHW). NTAGI is cru­cial to In­dia’s Uni­ver­sal Im­mu­niza­tion Pro­gramme (UIP) — the na­tion­wide roll­out of the pen­tava­lent vac­cine and the in­tro­duc­tion of vac­cines against ro­tavirus, IPV and rubella.

UIP is one of the world’s largest im­mu­ni­sa­tion pro­grammes. It caters to ap­prox­i­mately 27 mil­lion in­fants and 30 mil­lion preg­nant women an­nu­ally free of cost. Var­i­ous Voices HEALTH MIN­ISTRY The Gates Foun­da­tion-ITSU re­la­tion­ship for­mally ends on Fe­bru­ary 28. Dis­cus­sions are now on be­tween the health min­istry, the Gates Foun­da­tion and PHFI on the fu­ture role of ITSU. Ra­man told ET that “the next phase of as­so­ci­a­tion has not been de­cided”.

NTAGI, set up in 2001, is chaired by the health sec­re­tary and has on board a num­ber of in­de­pen­dent health ex­perts, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the In­dian Academy of Pe­di­atrics, the In­dian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion, World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion and UNICEF be­sides stake­holder min­istries.

NTAGI ad­vises the In­dian gov­ern­ment on poli­cies and strat­egy for im­ple­ment­ing the na­tional im­mu­ni­sa­tion pro­gramme and also eval­u­ates the im­pact of im­mu­ni­sa­tion on Vac­cine Pre­ventable Dis­eases (VPDs) in the coun­try. The NTAGI Sec­re­tar­iat pro­vides nec­es­sary sup­port for meet­ings of NTAGI and its Stand­ing Tech­ni­cal Sub Com­mit­tee.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.