White House Responds to Plea from Public Health Schools
In January 2013, deans from 13 schools of public health sent a letter to the White House declaring that it was dangerous and unethical to use public health workers for military intelligence gathering of any kind. This concern was prompted by the discovery that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) used a sham vaccination campaign against Hepatitis B in 2011 to gather DNA samples in Pakistan for the purpose of finding Osama bin Laden’s hiding compound.
After the fictitious campaign was discovered, the fragile trust that public health workers had managed to build, particularly those providing vaccines, was completely shattered in Pakistan and elsewhere. The Taliban banned health workers, villagers kept them away from their children, and some volunteers were even killed out of fear that they were spies or were attempting to sterilize young girls.