Petitioning Dr Margaret Chan World Health Organization and Iraqi Ministry of Health: #Act4Iraq and release birth defect data

My name is Dr Samira Alaani and I am a pediatrician working in Fallujah General Hospital. In the years since US forces attacked our city my colleagues and I have recorded a horrifying increase in the numbers of babies born with congenital defects: spina bifida, heart abnormalities and defects that I do not even have a name for. Many do not survive. For those that do, we care for them as best we can with the limited resources we have.

I have worked in Fallujah as a Pediatrician since 1997 but began to notice something was wrong in 2006 and began logging the cases; we have determined that 144 babies are now born with a deformity for every 1000 live births. We believe it has to be related to contamination caused by the fighting in our city, even now, nearly 10 years later. It is not unique to Fallujah; hospitals throughout the Anbar Governorate and many other regions of Iraq are recording increases. Every day I see the strain this fear puts on expectant mothers and their families. The first question I am asked when a child is born is not ‘is it a boy or a girl?’ but ‘is my child healthy?’

When I heard that the Iraqi Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) were going to carry out research I finally felt a glimmer of hope. I knew it would only confirm what we already knew; that there had been a rise in birth defects, but I saw it as a stepping stone to finally spur Iraq and the international community into action.

The research is now complete and we were promised that it would be published at the beginning of 2013, yet six months later the WHO has announced more delays. We worry that this is now politics, not science. We have already waited years for the truth and my patients cannot wait any longer. The WHO has another option. The data should be published in an open access journal for independent peer review. The process would be fast, rigorous and transparent.

My patients need to know the truth, they need to know why they miscarried, they need to know why their babies are so ill but, most importantly, they need to know that something is being done about it. The Iraqi Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization need to release this data and give us answers.

Please sign this petition and show that the rest of the world has not forgotten about the people of Iraq.

Categories: Arab World, Asia, Iraq

3 replies

  1. The birth defects witnessed in Iraq are a result of the depleted uranium used in missile shells and other weapons. This radioactive dust has contaminated large areas of Iraq including the water supply and soil, and will continue this contamination for centuries. It is ironic that the western press and politicians ignore this continued radioactive/chemical attack on the unborn children of Iraq, yet raise a hue and cry when chemical weapons are used in Syria. Congratulations to Dr. Khan for her courageous stand on this issue and I pray she is successful in getting these horrific statistics made public.

    • And now ‘the West’ wants to ‘bless’ Syria with the same kind of contamination! As a ‘punishment’ for the use of chemical weapons ‘we will bless you with depleted uranium’. What a world!

  2. So who will punish those perpetrators who committed these atrocities and crimes against humanity and still at large and holding offices ?

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