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15,000 hepatitis cases reported in Baghdad neighborhood

Khayoun Saleh, Azzaman

15,000 hepatitis cases reported in Baghdad neighborhood


November 25, 2005

There are 15,000 cases of Hepatitis in Al-Sadr Town, one of Baghdad’s most impoverished neighborhoods, a study has revealed.

The study was conducted by doctors and scientists concerned with the living standards of the town, where more than 1.5 million people live.

The investigators belong to Martyr al-Sadr Bureau, an organization working under the umbrella of the Iraqi political faction late by the Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Moqtada’s followers help in securing the predominantly Shiite town and offer humanitarian aid to the needy.

The latest hepatitis figures are the result of a comprehensive investigation by the bureau in which 140,000 households were covered.

Moqtada’s organization, which also includes a military wing, is highly disciplined and exercises almost full control of al-Sadr Town in Baghdad.

Hashem Mohammed, a leader of Moqtada’s organization, said the group decided to undertake the investigation when it found that the government and the health ministry did not have the capacity to carry out such study.

The investigation shows dramatic increases not only in hepatitis, a serious disease of the liver, but also in cases of major communicable diseases.

The study’s findings contrast sharply with official figures under which hepatitis cases are estimated at 1,500 in the town.

But Mohammed cast severe doubts on official documents, saying there was no way for the health ministry to have a clear picture of the worsening health conditions in the town.

He said officials figures rely on visits to the general hospital and does not include visits to clinics and health centers the group operates.

The sewage system in the city does not function properly and heavy water from open sewers inundates streets.

The study says a laboratory examination has found the tap water heavily polluted.

"Untreated water seeps into pure water pipes. The average of untreated water in
the pure water pipes is no less than 40%," the study says.

The al-Sadr Town is Iraq’s most densely populated area. It is a warren of two-story houses separated by narrow streets with open sewers.


:: Article nr. 18165 sent on 25-nov-2005 22:53 ECT

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Link: www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news%5C2005-11-26%5C1004.htm



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