Bangladesh has reservations about cholera vaccine trial

Posted on | juli 21, 2011 | 2 Comments

Bangladeshi authorities and officials of an international cholera research center are at loggerheads over the proposed trial of an anti-cholera vaccine, health terminology and the actual prevalence of diarrheal diseases. Senior government health officials on Tuesday argued that the government does not see any reason for a trial of the oral vaccine, as the mortality rate of The vaccine trial was launched in 2009 and was limited to low-indiarrhea is less than 1 percent (0.6 percent). Instead, Health Services official Dr. Khondhaker Shefyetullah said the vaccine trial needs government’s public policy, based on a detailed technical study and the opinion of stakeholders.

come people in the capital Dhaka, where incidents of diarrhea are common during peak monsoon seasons, which occur April through May and August through September. The trial, being conducted on children under the age of 5 by the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B) is set to end in September.

The government for more than three decades has avoided using the terms vibrio cholerae or cholera to describe the disease breakout. They insist that hospital doctors and the media describe the outbreak as diarrheal disease and dysentery. Bangladesh deliberately avoids using the word cholera to prevent a ban on the export of fresh vegetables and freshwater fish, which are sold in markets in Australasia, Europe and North America, Shefyetullah told a seminar on the introduction of cholera vaccine.

Steve Luby, a researcher with ICDDR,B echoed statements by government officials that an affordable vaccine would provide only partial protection from diarrheal diseases. He stressed that social behavioral change and dissemination of health information could prevent 30 to 50 percent of the prevalence of diarrheal diseases, which mostly occur among disadvantaged populations in both urban and rural areas.

The government also disputes the prevalence of the disease. Professor Mahmudur Rahman of the government Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) sets the annual figure of cholera outbreak at 450,000. The international health research institution estimates the figure at 1.2 million cases in its research journal.
Government officials have urged ICDDR,B to review its estimate and said that the government stands by its figure, which it said had been documented after obtaining information from the field over the last several years.

ICDDR,B executives agreed to review their data. They also said they will wait for the government public policy on clinical trials of cholera vaccine to protect child mortality and morbidity.

AUTHOR: Saleem Samad
E-MAIL: saleemsamad [at]


2 Responses to “Bangladesh has reservations about cholera vaccine trial”

  1. dipak das
    juli 21st, 2011 @ 20:57

    If the Government of the country has reservation, how can ICDDRB continue to carry out the unethical trial of cholera vaccine by exploiting poor people in Mirpur ?. Shouldn’t ICDDRB be more respectful of the goverment’s opinion?. This is sad and unfortunate that a few so called bangladeshi scientists can dare to ignore the feelings of the common people and the Government of the country and support the interests of their foreign donors. This practice should stop immediately, and the concerned scientists must be brought to book. We expect to see that the present democratic government can show its strength and prevent this trend of foreign dominance by providing small monetary benefits to a few irresponsible and dishonest Bangladeshi puppets.

  2. Ravi Chowdhury
    juli 21st, 2011 @ 21:42

    Thanks to Mr. Saleem Samad for a nice report on the status of cholera vaccine trial and the Government position. I agree with Dipak Das, that the position of ICDDRB should be clarified to the people. In the recent past we have seen a number of reports on unethical practices involved with the cholera vaccine trial in Mirpur. The past records of ICDDRB in cholera vaccine trial is also very controversial. It is therefore important to note that just because a foreign stakeholder is providing money to a particular Bangladeshi scientist to conduct the trial, it is unfair and unethical to use the poor people of the country as their guinea pigs. What benefits the people of the country will get if the vaccine is eventually developed into a market product? Will Bangladeshis get the vaccine at a reduced rate? What compensation will be given for using the people in Mirpur without adequate information provided? Above all, is it at all strategically a good decesion for Bangladesh to introduce cholera vaccine at the expense of water and sanitation based interventions? There is a need to question the interests of the foreign stakeholders and investigate the personal interest of the Bangladeshi collaborator. Bangladesh should not be viewed as a nation where foreign powers can do anything for their vested interest. The role of ICDDRB and that of this controversial scientist need to be investigated.

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