Health Ministry Clarification: No ties broken with Gates Foundation
New Delhi: The Health Ministry termed as “misleading and inaccurate” reports that the collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) for the National Health Mission (NHM) has been stopped, and said the global body continued to support it.
“Some media reports have suggested that all health- related collaboration with the Gates Foundation for NHM has been stopped. This is inaccurate and misleading. BMGF continues to collaborate and support the Health Ministry,” it said in a statement.
The statement comes amidst reports that the Centre has shut the gate on BMGF on NHM, and possible conflict of interest issues arising from the foundation’s ties with pharmaceutical companies is one of the reasons.
The reports also said that all financial ties of the India’s immunisation advisory body, National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), with the Gates Foundation have also been cut off.
Noting that there have been concerns raised in media reports regarding transitioning of the NTAGI secretariat to the National Institute of Health and Family Welfare (NIHFW) from ITSU, the Health Ministry said that it is a “planned activity” and will have “no adverse effect”.
“There is no financial link of NTAGI with BMGF or any other organisation as the body consists of independent experts. As far as technical support by Immunisation Technical Support Unit (ITSU) is concerned, it is functioning till February 28, 2017 and the project will continue to support the immunisation programme in techno-managerial capacity beyond this date.
“The contours of this support are being finalised with Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and BMGF,” the statement added.
NTAGI is the highest advisory body on immunisation in the country which consists of independent experts who provide recommendations on vaccines after reviewing data on disease burden, efficacy and cost-effectiveness of vaccines.
ITSU was established to support the Health Ministry for evidence-based planning, programme operations, monitoring and evaluation, strategic communication, cold chain and vaccine logistics management and support for Adverse Event Following Immunisation.
One of the functions of ITSU was to host the NTAGI Secretariat to facilitate the secretarial work of NTAGI which includes coordination of its regular meetings.
“In the last few years, many steps have been taken to strengthen NTAGI by providing a secretariat, establishing a code of practice and now institutionalising it at the NIHFW.
“The transitioning of the NTAGI Secretariat from ITSU to NIHFW was a planned activity and is part of the health system strengthening efforts by the government. This will have no adverse impact on its functioning,” the ministry said.