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Doctors appeal for mercury-free vaccines

The autism epidemic in the United States, starting in the 1980s, and the suspected link between autism and mercury in vaccines, led to the removal of most mercury containing vaccines in the West

 

Leading doctors have urgently called for an end to the use of mercury in vaccines to avoid potential threat to health of children.

 

"Continuing to use this potentially toxic substance, when there is little justification for it, will erode the trust of the public and endanger many public health initiatives," warn Jacob Puliyel and Ritika Chhawchharia of the Department of Paediatrics at St Stephens Hospital in New Delhi. Their warning is published as a commentary in the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics.

 

Thimerosal – a mercury-based preservative is used to prevent bacterial contamination of vials which are entered multiple times, i.e. vials containing multiple doses of vaccines. Preservatives are not required for single-dose ampoules.

 

The autism epidemic in the United States starting in the 1980s and the suspected link between autism and mercury in vaccines led to the removal of most mercury containing vaccines in the West by 1999. But Thimerosal is used in vaccines meant for developing countries, the doctors say.

 

Based on the argument that single-dose vials of vaccines (though free from mercury) are expensive to make and hence uneconomical for the third world, the vaccine manufacturers sell multi-dose vials (which contain mercury) to developing countries.

 

Apart from a lower cost-per dose, it is also argued that the multi-dose vials are most suited for countries like India as they require less cold storage space.

 

Puliyel and Chhawchharia, in their commentary, demolish these presumed advantages by noting that the benefit of smaller storage space is offset by vaccine wastage which is said to be as high as 60% with multi-dose vials. They also point out that the economics is flawed because single dose ampoules made in India have a maximum retail price of less than Rs3 per vial "and as such, use of single dose vials would be cost saving in India."

 

"Thus under actual usage conditions, it would appear that multi-dose vials do not afford any real economic benefits for developing countries," the doctors say. "In the Indian context where single dose ampoules are inexpensive to manufacture, switching to preservative-free, single-dose vials for vaccines may, in fact, save costs."

 

Puliyel and Chhawchharia admit that historically, there may have been reasons to use Thimerosal with vaccines, but they do not apply any longer because single-dose, Thimerosal-free vaccines vials are cheaper now. "Long-term harm may be done to all public health initiatives if international organisations do not act decisively to remove the potential threat posed by the use of Thimerosal in vaccines," they caution.


(Jacob Puliyel is the Head of Paediatrics at the St. Stephens Hospital in New Delhi.)

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Maharashtra Governor puts ACB back in RTI Act

RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar ‘s letter to the Governor demanding scrapping of the notification keeping the Anti-Corruption Bureau out of the RTI Act, has worked

 

The sly move of the outgoing Cong-NCP government of Maharashtra of illegally keeping Anti-Corruption Bureau out of the RTI Act was dismissed by the Governor on Wednesday, a day before the swearing-in ceremony of the new BJP government on Friday.


Late in the evening, the Governor of Maharashtra, Vidyasagar Rao, used his power to scrap a curious notification issued by the outgoing Congress-NCP government. The notification was surreptitiously put up only on the Anti-Corruption Bureau’s website and not on the Maharashtra government’s website, as is the norm.


This had invited ire from RTI activists, especially those who had lodged formal complaints against powerful politicians of Maharashtra for corrupt practices. Pune-based RTI activist, Vijay Kumbhar, had shot off a letter to the Governor pointing out to him, the complete disregard to a clause in the RTI Act which makes it mandatory to provide information regarding corruption.


The press statement issued by the Raj Bhavan stated, “The Governor took the decision to withdraw the notification issued by the State Government on 6thSeptember 2014 after considering representations from various RTI activists and taking cognizance of newspaper reports which reflected the view that the notification was in violation of the RTI Act. The Governor also got the issue legally examined before taking the decision to withdraw the notification.”


An elated Kumbhar stated that, ``the state government should not have indulged in such illegality in the first place. It was clear the outgoing government wanted to save the skin of bureaucrats and politicians against whom there is enough evidence of big corruption charges. I am happy that the Governor has taken note of my letter and acted objectively and for citizens’ interest.’’


Read our earlier story: http://www.moneylife.in/article/congress-ncp-govt-removed-anti-corruption-bureau-from-rti-just-before-polls/39197.html

 

 
 
Following is the flash press release issued by Raj Bhavan:

Raj Bhavan, Mumbai
 

30 October 2014


FLASH: PRESS RELEASE

 

Maha Governor orders withdrawal of notification 
exempting ACB from the purview of RTI Act

 

The Governor of Maharashtra Ch Vidyasagar Rao on Thursday (30 Oct) directed the State Government to withdraw the notification that had exempted the Anti-Corruption Bureau from the provisions of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

 

The Governor took the decision to withdraw the notification issued by the State Government on 6thSeptember 2014 after considering representations from various RTI activists and taking cognizance of newspaper reports which reflected the view that the notification was in violation of the RTI Act.

 

The Governor also got the issue legally examined before taking the decision to withdraw the notification.

 
(Umesh Kashikar)
 
 


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