by Matt Agorist, The Free Thought Project:
India — On February 28, 2017, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s (BMGF) support of India’s immunization program will cease to exist after the government has moved to sever ties with the billionaire’s organization.
This move by the Indian state was largely prompted by fears that Big Pharma foreign donors associated with the BMGF could influence policy making. Having been the proving ground for outside foreign-funded health experts, this move is also part of a larger push to dismiss dozens of other schemes controlling and attempting to control decision making in key policy areas, according to Reuters.
For many years, the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunizations (NTAGI) has been serviced and funded by the Gates Foundation’s Immunization Technical Support Unit (ITSU) at the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI).
Citing a ‘conflict of interests’, however, according to the India Times, the Gates Foundation’s “ties” with pharmaceutical companies is part of the reason they shut the gate on BMGF.
As the India Times reports:
There were questions about the Gates Foundation’s ties with pharmaceutical companies and the possible influence this may have on the country’s vaccination strategy. Global Policy Forum, an independent policy watchdog that seeks to promote accountability in international organisations, raised some of these concerns in a study in December 2015.
The study, called ‘Philanthropic Power and Development -Who shapes the agenda?’, had cautioned on “the growing influence of the large global philanthropic foundations, especially the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on political discourse and agenda-setting in targeted fields, and fully analyze the risks and side effects — intended and unintended — of these activities on sustainable development.”
Critics have in the past raised concerns the BMGF should not have any association with the program due to these apparent conflicts of interest. That’s because BMGF also backs GAVI, a global vaccine alliance that counts big pharmaceutical companies as its partners, according to Reuters.
After February 28, the NTAGI will be transitioned to the fully government-funded National Institute of Family Health and Welfare (NIFHW), by order of the Centre.
Of course, private donations from philanthropists are vital to staving off many of the world’s economic and medical woes. However, it is when these private donations begin to flow through the easily corrupted bureaucracy that we start seeing a vastly different scenario unfold.
According to the Global Policy Forum, who’s study was used in India’s decision to cut their ties with the Gates Foundation, BMGF is not always a force for good. In their report, Gated Development – is the Gates Foundation always a force for good? — Mark Curtis explains: