uruknet.info
  اوروكنت.إنفو
    
    informazione dal medio oriente
    information from middle east
    المعلومات من الشرق الأوسط

[ home page] | [ tutte le notizie/all news ] | [ download banner] | [ ultimo aggiornamento/last update 21/04/2014 18:20 ] 101845


english italiano

  [ Subscribe our newsletter!   -   Iscriviti alla nostra newsletter! ]  



Iraq: Politics and Science in Post-Conflict Health Research


October 19, 2013 - During my time as the director of the World Health Organisation's (WHO) programme in Iraq between 2001 and 2003, the WHO, together with other agencies, were aware of the reports of abnormal rates of health problems, such as cancers and birth defects, in southern Iraq. In the 1991 Gulf War, the fighting had been concentrated in the south and it was notable that reports of illnesses were far more prevalent in this region. A decade on, and a long overdue study by the Iraqi Ministry of Health into the prevalence of congenital birth defects has been undertaken in collaboration with the WHO; however its interim results have puzzled observers....

[101845]



Uruknet on Alexa


End Gaza Siege
End Gaza Siege

>

:: Segnala Uruknet agli amici. Clicka qui.
:: Invite your friends to Uruknet. Click here.




:: Segnalaci un articolo
:: Tell us of an article






Iraq: Politics and Science in Post-Conflict Health Research

Neel Mani

October 19, 2013

During my time as the director of the World Health Organisation's (WHO) programme in Iraq between 2001 and 2003, the WHO, together with other agencies, were aware of the reports of abnormal rates of health problems, such as cancers and birth defects, in southern Iraq. In the 1991 Gulf War, the fighting had been concentrated in the south and it was notable that reports of illnesses were far more prevalent in this region. A decade on, and a long overdue study by the Iraqi Ministry of Health into the prevalence of congenital birth defects has been undertaken in collaboration with the WHO; however its interim results have puzzled observers.

The institutional capacity that has finally allowed the study to take place should have been developed with funds from the Oil For Food Programme (OFP) in 2001. OFP money was required as the cost of the proposed work far exceeded the WHO's regular budget for Iraq at the time. Unfortunately, all projects funded through the OFP were subject to a complex process that required the final approval of the United Nations Security Council. Frustratingly, any project that proposed to investigate abnormal rates of birth defects in southern Iraq and their relation, if any, to environmental contamination, never got through the Security Council's approval process.

Before the 2003 invasion, the cynicism demonstrated by certain member states of the Security Council towards the post-conflict health conditions in southern Iraq was appalling. Following regime change, the attitude of the Coalition Provisional Authority just added arrogance to the cynicism. The funds from the OFP belonged to the Iraqi people, yet the Security Council responded with little alacrity to any attempt to release Iraqi money to finance research into the legacy of conflict on cancer rates in the south.

Political sensitivity over the legacy of the use of depleted uranium munitions may have helped catalyse Security Council objections to the research into the public health legacy of the conflict. Recent estimates for the cost of managing sites known to be contaminated with depleted uranium run to tens of millions of dollars, yet focusing solely on depleted uranium runs the risk of ignoring many other environmental risk factors.

A decade after Saddam's fall and many toxic remnants of war are still present in the environment. When in 2003 the war came to the areas where people live, work and play - the exposure risks to civilians from all military-origin contamination, be they heavy metals, explosive residues, building rubble, smokes and obscurants were markedly increased.

The interim report by the Iraqi Ministry of Health, which was published without fanfare on the WHO website on September 11th, had been widely expected to confirm that rates of congenital birth defects in Iraq were not only high but higher in areas subject to heavy fighting in 1991 and 2003. Instead it reported the opposite - that rates in cities such as Fallujah and Basrah are around half that typical of high income countries.

Puzzlingly, the interim findings in the study run counter to the consistent reports of medical professionals across Iraq. They also stand in stark contrast to the views expressed by Ministry of Health officials interviewed by the BBC earlier this year. In their opinion, there was a clear link between areas subject to heavy fighting and an increased incidence of birth defects. If confirmed, such findings could have significant political ramifications for not only Iraq but for post-conflict civilian health in general. As a result, the study has received considerable attention, with more than 53,000 people signing a Change.org petition calling for release of the study data and for its independent peer-review.

A number of experts have now come forward to question the study's methodology and the robustness of the peer-review process, most recently in the respected medical journal The Lancet. Critics have questioned the decision to undertake a household survey, instead of collating hospital records and challenged the anonymous authors on the lack of information concerning the selection criteria for areas included in the survey.

While the interim report does acknowledge some limitations, the ongoing instability in Iraq and the intensely political nature of the study raise concerns over the politicisation of the research. I believe that the only way to resolve such concerns and ensure the best outcome for the Iraqi people is for the Ministry of Health and WHO to be more transparent than they have been thus far. Lessons must be learned from the history of public health research in Iraq.

The politicisation of Iraq's public health research under the OFP should serve as a reminder that the WHO is nothing more than a reflection of the collective will of its member states. This collective will is often greatly influenced by those nations that exercise global power and, while the structure of the WHO does not necessarily reflect this influence, the decisions it implements certainly do.

It is quite unlikely that the WHO, as a professional organisation, has ever tried to block or downplay research. However, it is clear that the imbalances that exist in its funding, particularly for those public health projects that go beyond its regular country budgets, are open to state influence. In a system in which the financing is so disparate among member states, it is obvious that those who influence the purse influence the spend.

The agency continues to play a crucial role globally, thus it is important for the WHO to be transparent in all cases, as it was constitutionally created to be. The need for transparency is particularly acute in post-conflict public health research and the WHO has an important role to play in ensuring that its research partners pursue open, robust, science.

The people of Iraq, as with all communities caught up in war deserve to know whether environmental contamination from conflict presents a long-term threat to their health. Their governments, and those of the states that contributed to the damage, share an obligation with the international community as a whole in ensuring that the protection of civilians during and after conflict remains paramount.



Source


:: Article nr. 101845 sent on 20-oct-2013 14:00 ECT

www.uruknet.info?p=101845



:: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.

The section for the comments of our readers has been closed, because of many out-of-topics.
Now you can post your own comments into our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/uruknet





       
[ Printable version ] | [ Send it to a friend ]


[ Contatto/Contact ] | [ Home Page ] | [Tutte le notizie/All news ]







Uruknet on Twitter




:: RSS updated to 2.0

:: English
:: Italiano



:: Uruknet for your mobile phone:
www.uruknet.mobi


Uruknet on Facebook






:: Motore di ricerca / Search Engine


uruknet
the web



:: Immagini / Pictures


Initial
Middle




The newsletter archive




L'Impero si è fermato a Bahgdad, by Valeria Poletti


Modulo per ordini




subscribe

:: Newsletter

:: Comments


Haq Agency
Haq Agency - English

Haq Agency - Arabic


AMSI
AMSI - Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq - English

AMSI - Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq - Arabic




Font size
Carattere
1 2 3





:: All events








     

[ home page] | [ tutte le notizie/all news ] | [ download banner] | [ ultimo aggiornamento/last update 21/04/2014 18:20 ]




Uruknet receives daily many hacking attempts. To prevent this, we have 10 websites on 6 servers in different places. So, if the website is slow or it does not answer, you can recall one of the other web sites: www.uruknet.info www.uruknet.de www.uruknet.biz www.uruknet.org.uk www.uruknet.com www.uruknet.org - www.uruknet.it www.uruknet.eu www.uruknet.net www.uruknet.web.at.it




:: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more info go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
::  We always mention the author and link the original site and page of every article.
uruknet, uruklink, iraq, uruqlink, iraq, irak, irakeno, iraqui, uruk, uruqlink, saddam hussein, baghdad, mesopotamia, babilonia, uday, qusay, udai, qusai,hussein, feddayn, fedayn saddam, mujaheddin, mojahidin, tarek aziz, chalabi, iraqui, baath, ba'ht, Aljazira, aljazeera, Iraq, Saddam Hussein, Palestina, Sharon, Israele, Nasser, ahram, hayat, sharq awsat, iraqwar,irakwar All pictures

 

I nostri partner - Our Partners:


TEV S.r.l.

TEV S.r.l.: hosting

www.tev.it

Progetto Niz

niz: news management

www.niz.it

Digitbrand

digitbrand: ".it" domains

www.digitbrand.com

Worlwide Mirror Web-Sites:
www.uruknet.info (Main)
www.uruknet.com
www.uruknet.net
www.uruknet.org
www.uruknet.us (USA)
www.uruknet.su (Soviet Union)
www.uruknet.ru (Russia)
www.uruknet.it (Association)
www.uruknet.web.at.it
www.uruknet.biz
www.uruknet.mobi (For Mobile Phones)
www.uruknet.org.uk (UK)
www.uruknet.de (Germany)
www.uruknet.ir (Iran)
www.uruknet.eu (Europe)
wap.uruknet.info (For Mobile Phones)
rss.uruknet.info (For Rss Feeds)
www.uruknet.tel

Vat Number: IT-97475000150