The World Health Organization on Monday declared the spread of polio a public health emergency of international concern.
Alarmed by the spread of polio from conflict zones in three continents, the agency issued the health alert to try to stop the further spread of the disease, a paralyzing virus once thought to be nearly eradicated.
An emergency committee convened by the organization announced in Geneva that three countries — Pakistan, Syria and Cameroon — had allowed the spread of the virus and should take extraordinary measures to stop it.
In its zeal to identify bin Laden or his family, the CIA used a sham hepatitis B vaccination project to collect DNA in the neighborhood where he was hiding. The effort apparently failed, but the violation of trust threatens to set back global public health efforts by decades.
It is hard enough to distribute, for example, polio vaccines to children in desperately poor, politically unstable regions that are rife with 10-year-old rumors that the medicine is a Western plot to sterilize girls—false assertions that have long since been repudiated by the Nigerian religious leaders who first promoted them. Now along come numerous credible reports of a vaccination campaign that is part of a CIA plot—one the U.S. has not denied.