Culture Ethics Institutions Politics

Kenya’s Catholic bishops: Tetanus vaccine is birth control in disguise

Health workers administer a vaccine to a baby in Nairobi's Mlango Kubwa area. Religion News Service photo by Fredrick Nzwili
Health workers administer a vaccine to a baby in Nairobi's Mlango Kubwa area. Religion News Service photo by Fredrick Nzwili

Health workers administer a vaccine to a baby in Nairobi’s Mlango Kubwa area. Religion News Service photo by Fredrick Nzwili

NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) A row between the Catholic Church and the government over a tetanus vaccine aimed at women in their childbearing years has clergy urging people to shun the injection, saying it’s a stealth population-control ploy.

On Tuesday (Nov.11), the bishops appearing before the parliamentary health committee said they had tested the vaccine privately and were shocked to find it was laced with a birth control hormone called beta human chorionic gonadotropin.

“We are calling on all Kenyans to avoid the tetanus vaccination campaign because we are convinced it is indeed a disguised population control program,” said Bishop Paul Kariuki, chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops’ health committee.

The tangle began in March, when bishops became suspicious about the vaccine, which was targeted at women in the reproductive ages of 14 to 49, and excluded boys and men.

An ordinary tetanus shot can protect a person for 10 years, with a booster available for those who have suffered an injury.

The bishops also wondered why the campaign was being rolled out in phases and in secrecy.

“To our surprise, the Ministry of Health confirmed it had not tested the vaccine, having trusted it, since it originated from WHO (World Health Organization), a credible organization in matters of health,” said Kariuki.

The government insists the vaccine is safe. So too does the World Health Organization and UNICEF. The two groups issued a statement saying the vaccine, which has been used by 130 million women in 52 countries, is safe.

“These allegations are not backed up by evidence, and risk negatively impacting national immunizations programs for children and women,” the WHO and UNICEF statement said.

The government began providing the shots in October 2013.

“We have explained the science behind targeting the women,” said James Macharia, health ministry Cabinet secretary. “We have embarked on the campaign to speed up the elimination of the disease among women in the reproductive age.”

According to the bishops, when the ordinary tetanus vaccine is combined with b-HCG and given in five doses every six months, the women develop immunity for both tetanus and HCG, a hormone necessary for pregnancy. Subsequently, the body rejects any pregnancy, causing repeated miscarriages and eventually sterility.

In 1995, the World Health Organization proposed a similar campaign in Kenya, but the bishops protested, demanding that the vaccine be tested independently. Instead of submitting a sample for testing, WHO stopped the campaign, said Kariuki.

WHO carried out similar vaccination campaigns in Mexico in 1993 and in Nicaragua and the Philippines in 1994.

“What is immoral and evil is that the tetanus laced with HCG was given as a fertility regulating vaccine without disclosing its contraceptive effect to the girls and mothers,” said Dr. Wahome Ngare, a member of the Kenya Catholic Doctors Association.

YS/MG END NZWILI

About the author

Fredrick Nzwili

Fredrick Nzwili is a journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. For more than 15 years, he has written about religion, politics, peace and conflict, development, security, environment and wildlife. His articles have appeared in international media organizations among others; The Tablet, The Christian Science Monitor, The National Geographic and Kenyan local newspapers; The Standard and the People Daily.

31 Comments

Click here to post a comment

  • Holy crap these bishops are dangerously stupid fear mongers. There is nothing more dangerously ridiculous than the nexus between public health and religion.

  • “WHO carried out similar vaccination campaigns in Mexico in 1993 and in Nicaragua and the Philippines in 1994.”

    And did those campaigns presage a significant drop in the birthrates of those countries? You’d think someone would have noticed.

  • “Holy crap these bishops are dangerously stupid fear mongers.”

    And what does that say about the reporters at outfits like Religious News Service who are treating this story as a credible accusation rather than a wacko conspiracy theory?

  • I am not getting the impression of the accusation appearing credible by the author. Merely a description and display of the paranoia here.

    I took it as a given by the author that opposing vaccination in a developing country was something to be considered dangerously dumb.

  • Look at the way the article is written and structured. Look at how the headline uses the soft-sounding “birth control” instead of “sterilization” and “miscarriages,” which sound harsher and would be more likely to inspire incredulity in the reader.

    Look at how the bishops get to explain their theory about the pregnancy hormone and how the WHO has supposedly previously ended vaccination campaigns rather than submit the vaccines to testing (*), yet there is no indication that anyone from the WHO was asked to respond to either accusation.

    And look at who gets the last word (a simple and useful test in determining bias in news coverage).

  • I may not doubt anything here as far as the whites are concerned for they’re a menace to Africans, otherwise let us be slow to free donations and work harder to develop our continent else Africa turn into history. they will say once upon time there existed black continent.
    Praise GOD.

  • The Snopes article on this is helpful, as it gives some of the scientific background. The vaccine absolutely is being targeted toward women of childbearing age. That’s because it’s not simply a tetanus vaccine, but a program specifically aimed at maternal and neonatal tetanus. We in North America think of tetanus as stepping on a rusty nail, but in actuality the tetanus spores are all around , especially in agricultural areas. Vaccination of mothers can impose immunity on the child in utero. Is it possible that there’s some hormonal interaction with the vaccine? Yes, but as the article and other commenters have said, you would expect to see large drops in birth rate in the many other countries this has been tried.
    One more thing: Pampers has joined with Unicef in some of the developing-countries vaccination program. If the vaccine really caused sterility, you’d doubt that Pampers would want to be involved as that would pretty directly hit their bottom line.

  • The Kenya bishops are wrong about the vaccine being “birth control”. They are also criminally wrong in opposing birth control. Vatican opposition to birth control was locked in by Pope Paul’s VI’s 1968 ban, which he promulgated in defiance of the overwhelming majority of his own advisers. Overpopulation in Kenya and other developing countries is responsible for the deaths of untold thousands of women and unimaginable poverty.

    The official 1975 US government study NSSM 200 showed that there were then about 30 million abortions per year worldwide, a figure that has risen t 40 million. Most of these could have been avoided if the Vatican had just listened to its own advisers.

    Edd Doerr (arlinc.org)

  • People on here act like it is false because it could never happen .. but it has happened in Guatamala it happened and Hillary Clinton appologized for it. Ever heard of the tuskeegee experiment ?

    And so what what snopes may say .. I don’t think they have a clue anyway .. what do they have a crystal ball is that it ?

  • Many atrocities of all sorts have happened all over the world that you know nothing about because the history you are taught is highly selective ..

  • Really, well there is never been a more bunch of vodoo and witch craft than the medical establishment and their push of things like chemo therapy and all their over priced do nothing drugs that have killed millions of more people than any bunch of Christian Scientist ever has ..

  • I am wondering exactly what is wacko conspiracy theory. Is it that the tests were done, or is it the results of the tests or is it the bodies response to the hormone? I don’t much care about the name calling I care about the facts. The fact seems to be that the tests were performed by credible labs and the findings are credible. Why is the hormone in the vaccination and what is the bodies reaction to it?

  • Unbelievable! The Kenyan bishops opposing tetanus immunization are no different from the Taliban opposing polio immunization in Pakistan. When will this ignorance end?

  • Garson, It has nothing to do with how many people there are. It has EVERYTHING to do with the oppressive government not allowing the free market to flourish so people could work and make a good living.

  • It is understandable that people have a hard time believing that the ‘good’ country we live in would ever do something like this. But it is TRUE. The polio vaccine thing in Pakistan was IN FACT a well planned scheme by our government to collect the DNA of terrorists/terrorist suspects. Read it: NY Times- http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/12/world/asia/12dna.html?_r=1& when you think about it like this, how many other times has our government done these type of things and NOT been caught? You don’t get caught every time you speed on the highway!?! Nor do we hear about every story like these.

ADVERTISEMENTs