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The White House has pledged to never again use polio vaccination campaigns as a front for CIA spying, as it infamously did during the 2011 search for Osama Bin Laden in polio-stricken Pakistan, Yahoo News reported Monday.
“I wanted to inform you that the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) directed in August 2013 that the agency make no operational use of vaccination programs, which includes vaccination workers,” Lisa Monaco, President Obama’s top counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, wrote in a May 16 letter to the deans of 12 public health schools, according to Yahoo News.
The 2011 CIA operation further fanned the flames of distrust, leading many Pakistani parents to forgo vaccinations for polio and other ailments. Violence against medical workers, and the police officers guarding them, has killed 56 people between Dec. 2012 and May 2014.
In this climate, while polio basically has been wiped out worldwide, in Pakistan the disease has thrived; of the 77 documented new polio cases worldwide in 2014, 61 so far have been in Pakistan, and mostly in Taliban stronghold areas.