Hindus have questioned and urged a through probe into the ethical standards behind two major cancer studies on mostly poor women in India in which over 79 reportedly died.
Reports suggest that these separate studies which are still continuing, funded by Gates Foundation and US National Cancer Institute, over the years monitored the progressing of cervical cancer in group of women but did not screen them all. One study did not adequately inform thousands of women participants about cancer screening alternatives and adequate informed consent was not obtained.
The other study tracked thousands of women but did not routinely screen or treat them all. Researchers monitored and compared the death rates of control groups of women who were not screened for cancer with groups who were screened and treated.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, asked: Were the unscreened controlled groups ethically appropriate? Doing research in a developing country did not exclude the researchers from their responsibilities towards the human subjects in their control groups, Zed stressed.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, noted that this appeared to be unethical use of human subjects for experimentation. Using women’s deaths as a gauge in the study was unnecessary and sad.
Rajan Zed stated that research ethical standards should be same world over. Exploitation of subjects should end and stricter regulations needed to be enforced worldwide.
Zed pointed out that even if the women signed consent forms as claimed, how many of them actually understood what they were signing for.
These studies reportedly recruited thousands of poor women with low literacy rates from Mumbai slums and poor villages of India. Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai reportedly conducted one of the studies.