WASHINGTON — In his 2009 speech to the Muslim world, President Barack Obama announced a new effort to eradicate polio, which persists in three Muslim countries. One of the biggest hurdles had been persuading some local leaders that vaccination campaigns were independent health efforts, not nefarious programs being run by the CIA.
With the Obama administration’s assurances, Muslim scholars issued a religious decree that parents should vaccinate their children. The administration and public health officials cheered as the number of new polio cases began to fall in some hard-to-reach areas
Recently, however, as the U.S. closed in on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, the CIA used a vaccine program as cover, a way to try to collect DNA from bin Laden’s family and confirm he was hiding inside a walled compound...
“It’s just so unfortunate. It’s the worst kind of labeling you could put on a public health campaign,” Bari said Wednesday. “Any backlash against this will hurt the children of Pakistan...”