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U.S. Must Take Steps To Rebuild Trust Broken By CIA’s Fake Vaccination Campaign In Pakistan

“The news that the Central Intelligence Agency had been running a fake vaccination program in Pakistan first surfaced in 2011 and quickly ignited fears that the covert operation could compromise the global campaign to eradicate polio,” Lynn Goldman, dean of the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, and Michael Klag, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, write in a Baltimore Sun opinion piece, noting a number of polio workers have been killed in the country over the last month. “[M]any worry that the violence [against polio workers] will continue unless the U.S. government takes steps to rebuild trust in Pakistan and ensure that the CIA can never again infiltrate efforts to fight global health problems that affect all of us, from residents of Karachi to people living here in Baltimore,” they continue.

“A massive vaccination effort like this one requires a bond of public trust, one that was broken by the CIA,” Goldman and Klag write. “The U.S. took the first step toward repairing the atmosphere of mistrust by admitting to the sham vaccination effort,” they continue, adding, “Now, the president and Congress must take the next step by erecting a firewall between public health programs, like the global polio initiative, and espionage or other covert operations conducted by the CIA.” They conclude, “[T]he United States, the World Health Organization, partners in Pakistan and others must work together to create an atmosphere of trust and safety. We can and must do more to shield vaccine and other public health professionals from acts of violence so that they can continue to do their job” (1/7).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.