U.S. Public Health School Deans Protest Sham Vaccine Campaign in Pakistan

Jan 30, 2013, 2:33 PM

Earlier this month, the deans of twelve graduate schools of public health, including Harvard, Columbia and Johns Hopkins, sent a letter to the White House, signing as individuals, to protest the reported use by the CIA of a fake polio vaccination campaign in Pakistan to gain information on the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden. In the letter the deans say that as a result of the fake campaign, medical groups running long-standing vaccination programs have been asked to leave Pakistan. And in December, at least eight polio vaccination workers were assassinated in Pakistan and the U.N. polio eradication program was suspended.

β€œ[C]ontaminating humanitarian and public health programs with covert activities threatens the present participants and future potential of much of what we undertake internationally to improve health,” the deans wrote.

Suspension of vaccine efforts can also pose risks to countries beyond the developing world. According to Johns Hopkins research, Pakistan is one of only three countries where wild polio transmission still occurs.

>>Bonus Link: Read a New York Times article published in late December on other third world vaccination efforts that have come under threat in recent years. 

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.