Objections have been raised by the steering group of the National Health Mission (NHM) Tuesday, for Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) paying salaries of the secretariat of the national advisory group on vaccines. The group is the most powerful decision-making body on vaccines to be included in the government’s immunisation programme.
Describing the shift of office of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) from Vigyan Bhawan as’ improper,’ members of the steering group on Immunisation (NTAGI) expressed doubts about the impact the secretariat staff not being paid by the government would have on India’s vaccine policy. Calling it ‘unacceptable’ a steering group member said the NTAGI being moved into the Public Health Foundation of India office and 32 of its members drawing their salaries from BMFG was bound to raise conflicting of interest.
According to the Indian Express NTAGI member Dr Jacob Puliyel had recently raised some of these issues in a newspaper article which was followed by members being asked to sign a confidentiality clause. The government told the steering group that it was drafting a code of ethics , which would be run through experts, before notifying it.
Confirming that the matter had been raised, a senior health ministry official said, “We will give them whatever documents they have asked for; everything concerning the matter (of NTAGI and BMGF) will be made public. We are moving swiftly on the code of conduct to ensure full disclosures of any conflict of interest.”