Carmen de Bolivar, Colombia has become ground zero in the international debate over HPV vaccine safety, efficacy, and need. After the administration of the 2nd dose of Gardasil in local schools, beginning in March 2014, hundreds of young girls were admitted to the hospital with mysterious new medical conditions.
According to local sources, doctors who examined the girls and reported symptoms as possible adverse reactions to the HPV vaccine would often find manufacturer’s representatives in their office the next day trying to convince them otherwise.
The National Ministry of Health (Minsalud) initially put forth several theories to explain the symptoms of over 700 girls including mass hysteria, illicit drug use, and even the excessive use of Ouija boards. They even went so far as to enlist the services of Nobel Prize nominee, Dr. Nubia Muñoz Calero, to help ease the tension. (read more here.) Her message was basically that it would be a mistake to halt the current school-based HPV vaccination programs in Colombia.
Apparently parents of those affected, many doctors who personally examined the girls, at least one judge, and Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez do not necessarily agree.
According to a December 5, 2014 report on Caracol Radio, Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez issued a circular addressed to the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, the National Institute of Health, and several other organizations asking that priority be given to ensuring the right to health of those with new medical conditions after Gardasil. He also requested further monitoring and timely comprehensive treatment to girls who were apparently affected by the HPV vaccine.
In addition, he asked the National Institutes of Health and other responsible parties to disclose the technical and scientific studies relating to HPV vaccine safety and approval for use in Colombia along with all details regarding the guidelines for the management of Gardasil doses from manufacture through administration.
He also asked for plans to develop plans to implement and strengthen the epidemiological reporting of cases of suspected adverse reactions as well as plans to review and upgrade the rules ensuring rigor in the process of vaccine approvals and to establish communication strategies to make certain health policies in Colombia are developed and implemented in a manner guaranteed to ensure the public’s right to health, control of preventable diseases, and welfare of the entire population.
Judicial system protects those with new medical conditions after Gardasil
15 December 2014: Attorney Monica Leon Del Rio, representing several Colombian girls experiencing new medical conditions after the administration of Gardasil, reported that Honorable Magistrate Dr. Hirina Meza issued a provisional decree in favor of ten girls from Carmen de Bolivar.
This decree orders EPPS-S Mutual, the Secretary of Health in the municipality of Carmen de Bolivar, the Secretary of Health Bolivar Department, and the Ministry of Health to imediately organize complementary and coordinated actions necessary to effectively dispense to the child plaintiffs treatments integral to those who are disabled guaranteeing the supply of medicines, procedures and services, including any and all required treatments regardless of whether or not the costs incurred are covered in the patient’s current health insurance program or the Public Health Plan (POS).
The Honorable Magistrate also ordered Dr. Juan Manuel Anaya, immunologist and Director of the Center for the Study of Autoimmune Diseases, to examine the plaintiffs and report on the following aspects of their cases:
- Any relationship between the plaintiffs’ current disability and the administration of Human Papillomavirus vaccine, pointing out whether or not evidence of a causal relationship exists;
- Any medications that exhibit similar consequences which may have been administered to the plaintiffs;
- Any other potential causes of the disabilities currently exhibited by the plaintiffs;
- And to inform the Court of everything in relation to the issues above and/or pertinent to the order of protection being issued by the Court.
This decision in favor of 10 young Colombian girls suffering mysterious new medical conditions after the administration of Gardasil comes a few short weeks after a similar landmark decision issued in favor of a survivor of Gardasil and her newborn daughter, also represented by Attorney Monica Leon Del Rio. on 14 November 2014. (Read more here.)
National Institutes of Health adds insult to injuries
According to a January 6, 2015 report on Elheraldo.co, parents of injured girls in Carmen de Bolivar were outraged when the Colombian National Institute of Health (INS) ’leaked’ the final report on their ’scientific investigation’ into the epidemic of new medical conditions occurring after the administration of the second dose of Gardasil.
According to this ’leaked’ report none of the symptoms experienced by the girls are related to the administration of Gardasil. This report specifically stated the children did not have ’organic disorders’ or neurological diagnosis, or other diagnosed conditions so obviously they do not suffer from any physical illness.
The institute stated all doses applied in Carmen de Bolivar were from the same manufacturer, the same batch and that all cold chain transportation requirements were followed, so nothing could have affected the vaccine composition.
After many lengthy explanations, the report came to the conclusion the cases are due to ’episodes of psychogenic cause,’ due to the minor’s fear of being sick, augmented by the media attention on the events and lack of an identified cause.
According to Attorney Monica Leon Del Rio, this ’conclusion’ ignores evidence presented at a December 11 meeting presided over by Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria where Immunologist, Dr. Anaya, presented evidence of a causal relationship between the symptoms of 3 girls and the administration of Gardasil. She questions why Health Minister Gaviria did not order the National Institutes of Health to perform tests similar to those done by Dr. Anaya when establishing the possibility of demyelinating disorders being linked to Gardasil administration.
Why did Minister Gaviria allow the INS to simply examine paperwork, look for other causes, ignore Gardasil as a possible link and issue the conclusion of ’mass hysteria/psychogenic illness’?
Parents of HPV vaccine survivors outraged
More than 700 young girls suffered new medical conditions in Carmen de Bolivar after the administration of Gardasil. Their parents are outraged by the report issued by NIH.
Professor Hector Miranda, leader of one of the two parent’s associations created to defend their children’s fundamental right to life and health, stated,
This was not the Ouija board, nor witchcraft, or pudding pot, or polluted water, everything is for the vaccine, that is proven with other girls from other parts of the world who suffered the same symptomatology.
Monica Leon Del Rio is no stranger to the HPV vaccine controversy. She is the mother of a young woman who experienced paralysis and various medical dysfunctions after the administration of HPV vaccine in January 2013. She is currently representing at least 50 other girls from El Carmen de Bolivar who are exhibiting new medical conditions after using HPV vaccines. Her mission is to ensure survivors of HPV vaccinations receive proper medical diagnosis and treatment.
According to a report in Colombia Reports, Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez is a polarizing figure in Colombia. He has risen through the ranks of Colombian politics to a position of great power, all the while guided by an unyielding moral vision that has made him a righteous crusader to some; a dangerous zealot to many others.
Perhaps Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez and Attorney Monica Leon Del Rio are just what the parents of Carmen de Bolivar need to obtain justice for their children.