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Re: Why don't they boil water?

Dear all,

As I understand it, there is an acute psychological problem surrounding
infant formula. As elsewhere in the Third World, powdered milk appears to be
regarded as 'better' than breast milk. More technological, more advanced,
more healthy.

Removing the formula, however beneficial it might be in reality, might well
be perceived by much of the population as deliberate deprivation by the
government, aimed directly at the health of children.

Similarly, I understand that many people in Iraq irrationally seek outside
medication for any and all illnesses. This is just another psychological
impact of the sanctions and the social conditions they are causing.

On top of everything else, and the constant inadequacy of the food ration
due to various supply problems, my sense is that this would be seen as
extremely harsh by many people in Iraq.

A large part of the social contract between the Iraqi government and those
of its people under its jurisdiction seems currently to be negotiated via
the food ration. Changes to the ration appear to be extremely highly charged
political events.

Whatever one thinks the government ought to do, this context ought to be
borne in mind.

Nothing in the above speculation addresses the issue of boiling water.

When I visited a hospital last year (I believe it was in Fallujah) I asked
whether the mother of a chronically malnourished child knew about boiling
water, and my impression was that (a) she didn't, and (b) the doctor
involved did not routinely explain such matters to patients.

My impression is that, again, like many Third World societies, there was a
heavy technological bias to Iraqi medicine, and that community medicine has
never been a priority.

This is all of a piece with the heavy technological bias of Iraqi
agriculture and much of the rest of society, which left Iraq so acutely
vulnerable to the power of economic sanctions.

Why has such a bias in medicine not been rectified during the period of
sanctions? One would need much more information than is currently available,
but I would suspect a large part of the answer would be rooted in the
attitudes and outlook of the Iraqi medical professions themselves.

What relevance do these questions have to our struggles against sanctions?
Well, the way I have always formulated the issue is that we in Britain and
the US must acknowledge that our governments have the lion's share of
responsibility for the civilian suffering in Iraq.

There may be other factors and other agents involved, some accidental, some
unconscious, some deliberate, but the overriding fact of the situation is
that a state of seige has been imposed, and the most vulnerable people in
Iraqi society have been ground underfoot, by a Security Council led by
Britain and the US.

Whether or not Iraqi society could have made, could still make, better
adjustments to the circumstances we have imposed, does not remove the
massive burden of responsibility we bear for our deliberate policy, which
has continued unwaveringly in full knowledge of the conditions in Iraq.

Best wishes,

Milan Rai
Voices UK

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