International health organizations slam CIA’s fake vaccination drive in Pak
Islamabad, July 14(ANI): International health organizations have expressed concern that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)'s fake vaccination programme in Pakistan's Abbottabad town to obtain DNA evidence in the hunt for Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden could harm legitimate immunization programs in the country.
Michael O'Brien, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Pakistan, said that the fake programme could make it more difficult for medical officials in other parts of the country to administer critical vaccines.
"Anything that compromises the perception and impartiality of medical personnel undermines the activities of medical personnel everywhere, especially in places where access to health care is badly needed and security conditions for health care workers are already difficult," The Dawn quoted O'Brien, as saying.
The tribal region along the Afghan border is the main sanctuary for Taliban and al-Qaida militants in Pakistan, and many residents already harbor deep suspicions about the Pakistani government and its international partners.
Fighting between militants and the army in the area has also hampered vaccination drives.
Meanwhile, The World Health Organization (WHO) said that the organization is "concerned about the effect of the report on children's immunity in the country."
"Health interventions are by nature apolitical. We hope that this story does not prevent children in Pakistan being vaccinated against polio, measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases," said WHO spokeswoman Hayatee Hasan.
As part of extensive preparations for the US raid that killed bin Laden on May 2, CIA agents had recruited a senior Pakistani doctor to organize the vaccine drive in Abbottabad, British newspaper the Guardian's investigation had found.
They started the "project" in a poorer part of Abbottabad to make the vaccine drive look more authentic.
The vaccination plan was conceived after US intelligence officers tracked an Al-Qaida to what turned out to be bin Laden's Abbottabad compound last summer, the report said.
The agency monitored the compound by satellite and surveillance from a local CIA safe house in Abbottabad, but wanted confirmation that bin Laden was there before mounting a risky operation inside another country, it added.
DNA from any of the bin Laden children in the compound could have been compared with a sample from his sister, who died in Boston in 2010, to provide evidence that the family was present.