Kenya Catholic Bishops
Vatican Radio last week charged that United Nations organizations promoting population control are using vaccines to surreptitiously sterilize women in Third World countries. Kenya's Ministry of Health, along with the UN organizations — World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF — deny the charges, which carry the full weight of the Vatican. Vatican Radio is the official "voice of the Pope and the Church in dialogue with the World."

"Catholic Bishops in Kenya have been opposed to the nationwide Tetanus Vaccination Campaign targeting 2.3 million Kenyan women and girls of reproductive age between 15-49 years, terming the campaign a secret government plan to sterilize women and control population growth," reported Vatican Radio, as it took the occasion of the ordination of a Kenyan Bishop, Joseph Obanyi Sagwe, as an opportunity to remind the world of its concern.

The church, which operates 30% of Kenya's health care facilities and has been providing health care in Kenya for more than 100 years, is not opposed to vaccinations. To the contrary, its health facilities have long been administering vaccines as part of its public health mission.

But the church and official organizations such as the Catholic Health Commission of Kenya and the Kenya Catholic Doctors Association assert that a tetanus vaccine program sponsored by WHO and UNICEF has been laced with HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone that the human embryo produces after conception to enable it to be implanted in the womb (HCG is also the chemical tested for in pregnancy tests). When the body receives HCG via a tetanus vaccine, it acts as an antigen, stimulating the production of antibodies to HCG. Those antibodies cause the woman's body to reject future embryos, effectively sterilizing her.

The charges in Kenya, similar to others in Mexico, Nicaragua and the Philippines, led Kenya's parliamentary Committee of Health to create a Joint Committee of Experts, made of experts from Kenya's Ministry of Health and the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, to investigate the conflicting claims, which included government assurances that the tetanus vaccines used in the WHO-UNICEF Vaccination Campaign had been tested and found free of HCG.

The Ministry of Health then refused to provide the Expert Committee with the vaccine vials it claimed to have sampled and tested. The Catholic Bishops did provide the expert committee with nine sample vials that had been used in the WHO-UNICEF campaign. Upon testing, the Expert Committee found that one third of the WHO-UNICEF vials did indeed contain HCG. Separately, 50 tetanus vials that weren't involved in the WHO-UNICEF campaign were tested and found to be free of HCG.

The church and the government are now in a stand-off. The Ministry of Health has pulled its experts from the Expert Committee and refuses to accept a final report on the controversy. The church, for its part, is warning parishioners to avoid the tetanus vaccine, requesting apologies for the victims from WHO and UNICEF for conduct both "unethical and immoral," and insisting that "no further vaccination campaigns should be undertaken in this county without an all-inclusive sampling and testing exercise before, during and after the vaccination campaign."