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Swadeshi Jagran Manch alleges BMGF of lobbying for pharmaceutical companies

By Vinod

New Delhi, July 13: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's affiliated organisation Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM) has demanded banning such NGOs working in India that are facing allegations of conflict of interests and promoting certain pharmaceutical companies manufacturing 'contentious' vaccines.

Swadeshi Jagran Manchs allegation against Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF)

SJM demanded from the Central and state governments to review working of the international NGOs such as Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Global Health Strategies (GHS), Programme for Appropriate Technology for Health (PATH) in India.

Swadeshi Jagran Manch convener Ashwini Mahajan alleged that the department of financial services was investigating appointment of BMGF's national head on the board of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) which is also a regulator to monitor foreign funds. There are serious charges of conflict of interest on a Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health, appointment on a panel of GHS have been reported. Mahajan said that the same joint secretary was responsible for the National Immunisation Programme and GHS has been lobbying for the use of vaccines like HPV.

Questions are being raised about the influence of the pharma giants on the National Immunisation Program.

"The track record of GHS was also not clean. Parliament Standing Committee on Health in 2013 found serious lapses on part of PATH in taking informed consent of parents, the process of taking regulatory clearances as well as conflict of interest of the NGO with certain quarters of the government. The Committee had also recommended strict action against the NGO. But nine years hence, far from getting penalised, these individuals continue to work freely with the government influencing our policies and programs as they did a decade ago," said Mahajan.

The SJM alleged that there are reports about these organisations pushing their agendas in various states to influence the health policy making through direct and indirect representatives, consultants and public policy professionals. SJM has regularly been alerting the central government agencies of these outfits' ill-designs and in most of the cases the agencies started reviewing their role thereafter. SJM also noted that these NGOs, along with their subsidiaries and affiliates are actively lobbying with the state governments to meet their end goal, that too circumventing the laws of the land. It will be appropriate, if the state, as well as, central agencies issue advisories and immediately stop interacting with them. There is a strong case for reviewing their functioning and programmes these outfits run.

These outfits in the last few years spread their wings in states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. The outgoing Akhilesh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh signed MOU with BMGF, which operates through foreign organisations like University of Manitoba, Clinton Foundation et al in the state. The MoU is up for renewal. "We demand from the present Uttar Pradesh government to come up with a whitepaper on the progress of the understanding. There is an urgent need to take a relook and ensure Indian organisations are given due preference. The BMGF also uses serving and retired IAS officers on high salaries for influence peddling."

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