Kerala’s health survey under a hidden agenda?

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With the Kerala government going ahead with the controversial Kerala Information on Residents – Arogyam Network (KIRAN), which is alleged to be part of a design to hand over health data of the people of the state to a foreign NGO, doubts still persist with the government alleged to be having a hidden agenda.

The government in its order on KIRAN only says that a MoU is signed with Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies (Health Sciences wing of SCTIMST) for the survey. But the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI), a joint institute of Hamilton Health Sciences and McMaster University, Canada, had in its website declared KIRAN as their ongoing project. But this information has now been deleted from their website after the survey became a controversy.

Doubts have been raised why PHRI was not mentioned in the Government Order. It is alleged that there was a hidden agenda for handing over the survey to the Canadian firm and as such it was not mentioned in the GO. It is alleged to be a political decision to rope in PHRI through SCTIMST. And if the government had nothing to hide, then the GO could have included everything, including the role of the Canadian firm. The doubts of a hidden agenda have been strengthened with the PHRI erasing all the details regarding KIRAN from its website once this became a controversy.

The sources said that the Achutha Menon centre had already held talks with the Canadian firm for the survey. The survey is conducted by the health department and the analysis part is said to be done by the Canadian firm. Moreover, they said that the software used for the analysis is being provided by the foreign firm. And if the software used is from an outside agency and if the data is being analysed by that firm, it is alleged that the firm would have full access to the data.

The sources said that the data on health and lifestyle of the people in the state could reach pharma companies and even these data could be sold to other countries.

It should be seen that the same health survey by the same foreign firm was stalled by the Communists when they were in the opposition in 2012-13. At that time, they had alleged that the survey was being conducted for the Canadian firm and that the health conditions and lifestyle of the people in the state was being handed over to a foreign firm for pharmaceutical interest.

The sources said that it was quite a paradox that the same survey is being held in the state in a different name by hiding the facts.

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