In an exclusive interview with C-Fam’s Friday Fax, UNICEF denies allegations from the Catholic bishops of Kenya that a tetanus vaccine program in their country sponsored by the UNICEF and WHO is a covert population control program.
The UN agencies issued a joint statement last week in which they accuse Kenyan bishops of spreading “misinformation” and making grave allegations “not backed up by evidence.”
The bishops of Kenya are campaigning against a special neo-natal tetanus vaccine program for women of childbearing age sponsored by the agencies, calling it a “disguised population control program”, and urging Kenyans to use only routine tetanus treatments that are widely available.
According to the bishops, four separate laboratory tests of the actual vaccine found it contained a hormone (Beta-hCG) that prevents implantation, possibly leading to multiple miscarriages and even infertility. The bishops say they felt they must warn the public when the government failed to comply.
James Elder, a UNICEF representative in Africa, told the Friday Fax in an exclusive interview that only women of childbearing age were targeted in the program because the program was aimed at protecting newborns and their mothers in remote areas where births occur in “unhygienic conditions.” The protection for newborns, he assured, lasts for a few weeks after birth. [The full Q&A with UNICEF is now posted here.]
Elder further explained that the tetanus immunization regime in the country aims at protecting newborns, who account for most new tetanus cases in Kenya, and is directed at women in rural areas with inadequate access to health facilities. It involves 3 doses of anti-tetanus shots, ensuring protection for 5 years. He also explained that Kenya recommends five doses of tetanus shots for both men and women, in order to secure lifetime immunity, as opposed to normal coverage for 5 to ten years from a single shot.
UNICEF and WHO said they have “taken note” of the tests conducted by the Kenya Catholic Doctors Association cited by the bishops, and suggest they were not conducted in “suitable” laboratories and did not test the actual vaccine but blood samples. The UN agencies were adamant the Kenyan National Regulatory Authority had the mandate to determine quality, safety, and efficacy of the vaccine.
But Elder did not reassure any faith in the government tests. If actual samples had been tested, he said, “there is no laboratory in Kenya with the capacity to test non-human samples for hCG,” that is, the actual vaccine.
Two doses of the vaccine have already been administered to approximately 130 million women worldwide, the UN agencies said. UNICEF purchased the vaccine from the Serum Institute in India, which enjoys the special WHO designation of “pre-qualified manufacturer” and boasts that one out of every two children immunized in the world gets one of their vaccines.
While WHO has conducted early stage trials with hCG as part of fertility regulating vaccine research, these experiments have been abandoned by WHO, according to longtime WHO consultant, and former director of WHO’s research into human reproduction, Dr. Giuseppe Benagiano, a frequent consultant to the work of C-Fam. He adds that WHO does not test anything secretly.
Benagiano, a Dean of the faculty of Gynecology and Obstetrics at the University of Rome and former head of the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, told C-Fam that “birth control vaccines do not exist”, and that research in this area has persistently failed. Even if they did, he said, it would be impossible to combine the tetanus vaccination with an hCG inhibitor for “technical reasons.”
Benagiano said “I am absolutely, 100%, sure that there is nothing dangerous about the vaccinations in Kenya.” He suggested that bishops in Kenya “need to be reassured that no birth-control vaccine has been mixed into the anti-tetanus vaccine.”
Dr. Robert Walley of MaterCare International, a Catholic maternal health charity that works in Africa, spoke to C-Fam on Thursday and said he was not reassured by the statement from WHO and UNICEF even though he acknowledged that there was no such thing as a combined tetanus and hCG vaccine.
Walley has been in Kenya the past few weeks and told C-Fam the tests conducted by the Kenyan doctors showed an “elevated” level of hCG. He did not say this was a smoking gun, but it warranted bishops doing all they could to warn Kenyans.
“Somebody seems to have loaded it”, he said.
He also said government involvement in the vaccine program was passive until the allegations from the bishops. Now the government is threatening doctors that collaborate with the investigation.
Walley is on his way to the United Kindom to conduct further tests on the vaccine, to see if the results are reproduced. “Everybody is denying everything and accusing everybody,” he said, “we want to be careful.”
It isn’t the first time a UN or government-run program has been accused of sterilizing women without their consent. Similar allegations of a tetanus vaccine involving WHO were made in the Philippines and Peru in the 1990s. Both cases eventually led to inconclusive legal proceedings. Each time this happens, public trust in international institutions is shaken to its foundations.