The increase of polio in Pakistan is being linked to a secret CIA effort to hunt Osama bin Laden, in which the agency set up fake vaccination clinics in the city of Abbottabad in order to get DNA from the bin Laden family. The Taliban subsequently banned immunization efforts and carried out deadly attacks on medical workers.

The World Health Organization has designated the spread of polio in Asia, Africa and the Middle East a global public health emergency requiring a coordinated “international response.” Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria are recognized as three countries that pose the greatest risk to further spreading of the paralyzing virus. The WHO has recommended that all residents of the countries, of all ages, be vaccinated before traveling abroad. Another seven countries — Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Nigeria and Somalia — were instructed to encourage would-be travelers to get vaccinated.

“Democracy Now!” hears from Rafia Zakaria, a columnist for Dawn, Pakistan’s largest English-language newspaper, who has been covering the rise of polio in that country since the bin Laden raid. One of Pakistan’s leading polio experts, Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta, also joins the conversation.

‘Democracy Now!’:

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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