India has shut down the Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation’s operations and kicked its management out of the country after grave concerns were raised about the non-government organization’s immunization policies and close ties to Big Pharma.
India’s concerns reportedly centered around the Bill Gates foundation’s “ties” with pharmaceutical companies, and the influence this exerted on their vaccination policy.
The Gates Foundation has for years funded the Immunization Technical Support Unit (ITSU), which provides strategy and monitoring advice for New Delhi’s massive immunization program that covers about 27 million infants each year.
It will now be funded by the government which felt there was a need to completely remove the Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation from any position of influence, senior health ministry official Soumya Swaminathan told Reuters.
Critics have in the past raised concerns the BMGF should not have any association with the program due to apparent conflicts of interest.
That’s because BMGF also backs GAVI, a global vaccine alliance that counts big pharmaceutical companies as its partners.
India’s immunization program vaccinates children to shield them from life-threatening conditions such as measles and polio, and is viewed by experts as crucial for improving public health.
A key win has been the successful eradication of polio, but more than a million Indian children still die every year before reaching the age of five.
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