Kerala Kaumudi Online
Thursday, 28 October 2021 5.05 AM IST

Data worth Rs 500 crore sold to Canadian agency


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A new controversy has erupted over the government-sponsored sharing of personal information of 10 lakh people in the state with a corporate company in Canada and drug testing in people without their knowledge. This is amid allegations that PricewaterhouseCoopers House and Sprinklr had attempted data sales during the time of the Kerala floods and COVID crisis respectively.

This took place in the name of community health precaution in the wake of the 2018 floods. Data, which is worth more than Rs 500 crore in the international market, was transferred to the foreign company. The trade was led by the former Principal Secretary of the Department of Health, a doctor at the Medical College, a researcher at the Achutha Menon Center for Science Studies, and the Public Health Committee members. The government entered into an agreement with the Population Health Research Institute of Canada to provide technical assistance to the Government's e-Health Project and the Achutha Menon Science Study Center for research. The data of 10 lakh people from all districts were collected using junior health inspectors and this was handed over to the Canadian agency on the same day. The details of the transfer of data and the conversations and messages made by those including the principal secretary of the health department have surfaced.

During the period of the UDF government, an attempt was made to conduct the same deal in the name of Kerala Health Observatory Baseline Study. However, this deal was stopped following opposition from the then Opposition Leader V.S. Achuthanan. Following this, the then Health Secretary, who led the deal, moved to Delhi. Soon after the LDF government came into power, the same officer returned to the state service and the same program was implemented under a different name.

Drug testing in two ways

Two types of drugs were tested in Malayalees. Polycaps, a drug for heart disease, which was developed by US based-Cadila Pharmaceuticals, was experimented on 1000 people over a period of three months. The medicine was given for free without the knowledge of the people. The health conditions of these people were monitored and any side effects or deaths were reported to the Canada-based company PHRI that had the contract to conduct a clinical trial of the drug.

They also tested the effectiveness of pills such as aspirin and cholesterol in lowering blood pressure caused by alcohol and smoking in poorer countries. This was also free.

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