An article published on this site entitled Ethical lines blur as organisations pay to speak at a conference on childbirth in Mumbai on February 7 mistakenly connected the difficulty of raising money for medical conferences independently of the pressures of sponsorship, with a non-medical conference at which sponsors/speakers had no control over the programme, content or direction of the event. The article focused on a conference in Mumbai organized by the international network Human Rights in Childbirth (HRiC) along with Birth India, a non-governmental organisation that promotes evidence-based benefits and best practices for childbirth in the country.
We have written about the significance of their work extensively before and we did not, in any way, want to single them out or to imply, that any sponsors had paid to speak at the event. HRiC has clarified that no speaker paid for the privilege of speaking at the event, registration fees were waived for all journalists, speakers, volunteers and TISS personnel, that waivers/reductions were handed out to several on the basis of hardship and access to the dinner was automatically included with registration. HRiC also confirmed that potential sponsors were strictly vetted, and many rejected for conflict of interest reasons, and that sponsors were never offered the opportunity to place speakers in the program. In the light of these facts the editorial team believes that we should withdraw the article. We apologise to HRiC.