Is the health data of the people in Kerala being outsourced or sold to some drug company? Are the people in Kerala going to be part of a major drug trial in the future? Is it that some foreign pharma company or foreign institute will prescribe to the people what to do for being healthy in the future?
These doubts come up with the government’s project – Kerala Information on Residents – Arogyam Network – that is alleged to be designed for a Canada-based NGO.
The doubt gets stronger with the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI), a joint institute of Hamilton Health Sciences and McMaster University, Canada, has itself declared in its website about KIRAN and as their ongoing project. However, this information has now been deleted after the issue became controversy.
It has to be noted that the same health survey by the same NGO was stalled by the Left when it was in the opposition. PHRI’s involvement in the health sector was controversial in 2012-13 when then Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan had alleged that the Congress led government was favouring a Canada based institution and sharing sensitive data regarding health/lifestyle of the people with PHRI.
The Left had also accused the then Oommen Chandy government of helping private pharma firms to conduct dangerous drug trials on people in collaboration with Canada and passing over details about the people of the state to a foreign country.
However, coming to power, the Left has roped in the Canadian firm for the controversial survey.
Though the government is not having any direct agreement with PHRI, it is Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies (Health Sciences wing of SCTIMST) that has engaged the NGO in the survey. The government has only signed the MoU with SCTIMST for the survey.
Highly placed sources said that the PHRI was engaged in the survey as part of a political decision. Though the MoU was between the government and SCTIMST, the sources said that there was a hidden agreement that the survey would be handed over to PHRI.
It is alleged that the preparations for roping in PHRI had begun soon after the CPM led government came to power. In the beginning, the government had come up with the idea of an epidemiological survey, which had to be set aside after much opposition. However, this epidemiological survey has now been introduced in a new name KIRAN.
As part of the survey, data of one million people across the 14 districts in the state will be collected.
Though the government claims all transparency in the survey, it has allegedly failed to remove the concerns and doubts of many who fear that the information and data with regard to the health of the people in Kerala would be passed on to pharma companies and even translated to other countries.