On January 6, Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH, and the deans of 11 other schools of public health wrote to President Obama to condemn the use of a vaccination campaign ruse in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, writing that "as a general principle, public health programs should not be used as cover for covert operations."
According to The New York Times, the CIA has admitted hiring a Pakistani doctor to give out hepatitis B vaccine, apparently in an effort to get DNA samples from the compound that it suspected was Bin Laden's hide-out. The result was a severe backlash against vacinnation programs, culminating last month in the murder of at least eight polio vaccination workers and forcing the UN to suspend efforts there to fight the disease. Pakistan is one of three countries where the disease hasn't been eradicated. (The other two are Afghanistan and Nigeria.)
"International public health work builds peace and is one of the most constructive means by which our past, present, and future public health students can pursue a life of fulfillment and service," the deans conclude. "Please do not allow that outlet of common good to be closed to them because of political and/or security interests that ignore the type of unintended negative public health impacts we are witnessing in Pakistan."
Read the full letter below.
January 9, 2013