Many public health groups and civil society organizations are unhappy over the government's plans to introduce cervical cancer vaccine in the universal immunization program in India
They urged the ministry to drop the plan to include human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, used against cervical cancer. As there is not enough clinical trials of the vaccines on Indian population and there are concerns about its safety and efficacy.
"We are extremely concerned about the long-term safety and efficacy of the HPV vaccines—Gardasil and Cervarix—and strongly feel that it would lead to serious adverse effects for its recipients. The Supreme Court is hearing the writ petitions that have raised important questions regarding the vaccine's safety and efficacy as well as its relevance and priority as a public health measure in India," said the memorandum sent to Nadda, signed by almost 70 representatives of leading public health groups and women's groups, health researchers and health and women's rights activists.
"There is no conclusive evidence which suggests that the vaccine will protect girls from acquiring HPV and developing cervical cancer later in their lives. These vaccines have not been in use for long enough to know the level of protection they will offer to young women when they are actually exposed to the risk of HPV infection," said the memorandum.
Public health organizations like Jan Swasthya Abhiyan and Sama said these vaccines were allegedly licensed in India on the basis of grossly insufficient research. "A number of girls experienced side effects and at least 7 died post vaccination," they said.
They suggested that the government must strengthen health services including screening for cervical cancer and large-scale awareness programs on HPV, cervical cancer, methods of preventing transmission of sexually transmitted infections, instead of spending resources on this vaccine.