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India pushed hard for interests of developing countries at WTO: Sitharaman


New Delhi: India negotiated hard at the WTO’s recent Nairobi ministerial meeting to ensure that the interests of developing countries remain at the centre of the multi-lateral trade body’s agenda, parliament was informed on Tuesday.

“India negotiated hard to ensure that the WTO continues to place the interest of developing countries and LDCs (least developed countries) at the centre of its agenda,” Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told the Lok Sabha.

Some developed countries, including the US, are opposed to the continuation of the Doha Development Round negotiations launched in 2001, she said in a statement to the House, following her return from Nairobi meeting that concluded on Saturday.

Even as rich nations conceded to the demands of emerging economies on issues such as finding a permanent solution to disputes over government stockpiling of food for security, India protested the non-inclusion of the development agenda at the latest trade talks.

The Nairobi Ministerial Declaration acknowledged that members have different views on how to address the future of the Doha Round, but also noted the strong commitment of all members to advance negotiations on the remaining Doha issues, Sitharaman said.

“India not only made a statement to this effect at the closing ceremony on December 19 but also made a written submission to the Director-General, WTO and the Chair of the 10th Ministerial Conference,” the minister said.

She also said on demand from a large number of developing countries for a Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) for agricultural products, India negotiated a ministerial declaration that recognises that developing countries will have the right to have recourse to an SSM.

The SSM allows developing countries to resort to higher customs duties on some farm produce to protect the interests of its farmers.

As the future of WTO’s Doha Development Agenda (DDA) appeared in doubt, India succeeded in obtaining a re-affirmative ministerial decision on public stockholding for food security purposes, Sitharaman said.

India’s statement issued at the end of the Nairobi talks said: “Notwithstanding the difficulty in the negotiations, the draft declaration reflects India’s demand for a reaffirmation from all members to work towards a permanent solution on public stockholding.”

On new issues like investment and e-commerce being pushed by developed countries, Sitharaman said the Nairobi Declaration acknowledges the differences in views and
states that any decision to launch negotiations multilaterally would need to be agreed by all members.

The minister said all countries agreed to the elimination of agricultural export subsidies subject to the preservation of special and differential treatment for developing countries such as a longer phase-out period for transportation and marketing export subsidies.

“The reduction in the massive subsidization of the farm sector in developed countries, which was the clear-cut mandate of the DDA, is now not even a subject matter of discussion today, leave aside serious negotiations,” Sitharaman had said at the plenary session at Nairobi.

She told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday that the Nairobi ministerial decision contains disciplines that “include terms to limit the benefits of financing support to agriculture exporters, rules on state enterprises engaging in agricultural trade and disciplines to ensure that food aid does not negatively affect domestic production. Developing countries, such as India, are given longer time to implement these rules.”(IANS)

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Pentavalent vaccine: Doctors raise red flag

In spite of the data presented in this paper from a large cohort, the authors point out that the evidence is merely circumstantial and not conclusive

the new Hepatitis B vaccine for adults is called Heplisav-B.
India's PV to be reexamined because of its harmful effects. .
  • Pentavalent vaccine was introduced in India six years ago
  • It is since then have been a cause of many deaths
  • Doctors want it to be reexamined before continuing its use

Pentavalent vaccine (PV), that was introduced by India a little over six years ago, doubled the deaths of children soon after vaccination compared to the DPT (Diphtheria-Pertussis-Tetanus) vaccine, according to a new study that calls for a “rigorous review of the deaths following vaccination with PV”.

Health officials have launched a campaign targeting nearly 24 million people with a one-fifth dose of the vaccine. Wikimedia Commons
PV has been cause of many deaths in past years. Wikimedia Commons

Government records show that there were 10,612 deaths following vaccination (both PV and DPT) in the last 10 years. There was a huge increase in these numbers in 2017, which the Health Ministry has promised to study. “The present analysis could be a starting point in the quest to reduce the numbers of such deaths,” authors of the new study say.

The study by Dr Jacob Puliyel, Head of Pediatrics at St Stephens Hospital, and Dr V. Sreenivas, Professor of Biostatistics at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), both in New Delhi, is published in the peer-reviewed Medical Journal of Dr D.Y. Patil University.

PV is a combination of the DPT vaccine and two more vaccines against Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) and hepatitis B. Starting December 2011, PV was introduced into India’s immunisation programme to replace DPT vaccine in a staged manner with a view to adding protection against Hib and Hepatitis B without increasing the number of injections given to infants.

Doctors have raised concerns over these vaccines. Wikimedia Commons
Doctors have raised concerns over these vaccines. Wikimedia Commons

But sporadic reports of unexplained deaths following immunisation with PV had been a matter of concern. Puliyel, Sreenivas and their colleagues undertook the study to find out if these deaths were merely coincidental or vaccine-induced.

The authors obtained data of all deaths reported from April 2012 to May 2016 under the Right to Information Act. Data on deaths within 72 hours of administering DPT and PV from different states were used.

For their study, the authors assumed that all deaths within 72 hours of receiving DPT are natural deaths. Using this figure as the baseline, they presumed that any increase in the number of deaths above this baseline among children receiving PV must be caused by this vaccine.

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According to their analysis of the data provided by the government, there were 237 deaths within 72 hours of administering the Pentavalent vaccine — twice the death rate among infants who received DPT vaccine.

Extrapolating the data, the authors have estimated that vaccination of 26 million children each year in India would result in 122 additional deaths within 72 hours, due to the switch from DPT to PV.

“There is likely to be 7,020 to 8,190 deaths from PV each year if data from states with the better reporting, namely Manipur and Chandigarh, are projected nationwide,” their report says.

It is important to make sure that these vaccines are reexamined peroperly. VOA

The authors note that while the study looks at the short-term increase in deaths (within three days of vaccination) it does not calculate the potential benefits of PV on infant mortality, for example by protection against lethal diseases like Haemophilus influenza.

In spite of the data presented in this paper from a large cohort, the authors point out that the evidence is merely circumstantial and not conclusive. “These findings of differential death rates between DPT and PV do call for further rigorous prospective population-based investigations,” the study concludes. IANS