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Re: Why don't they just boil water?

Last week I inquired as to people's thoughts about the claim that if the
Iraqi govt encouraged the boiling of water and removed breastfeeding
formula from the rations infant mortality would be significantly reduced.  

While the responses to that query have been thoughtful, and have provided
partial explanations, certain questions remain unanswered.

For example, Milan Rai points out that changes to the food ration may be
"highly charged political events."  This explains why the Iraqi govt would
be reluctuant to withdraw it.  It does not explain why the formula was
introduced in the first place, over the objections of UNICEF.  

The "heavy technological bias" of Iraqi doctors that MR refers to is very
real, but may not be germane to this particular point. Many Iraqi doctors
went to medical school in the US and UK; many of the doctors I met in March
1999 were educated during the 80's, a period in which the Western public
health establishment was publicizing the hazards of formula feeding and
encouraging a return to breast feeding.  Thus, the Iraqi medical profession
would seem immune from the misconception that formula is "better."

Magaret Skinner recollects that she and other UNICEF workers as well as
people from the Ministry of Health encouraged Iraqi women to boil water and
breastfeed.  As she worked in Iraq in 1991, and formula was not added to
the ration until 1996, I am not clear about the "powdered milk
preparations" she refers to.  Is that formula?  And how did mothers
accquire it?  Was it cheap or otherwise available? Could someone clarify
this point?

MS's comments about the  scarcity of fuel causing mothers to forgoe the
boiling of water are important.  I hope people raise it with Richard
Garfield at the CASI conference.

My own thoughts about all this:  Perhaps the Tikriti (sp?) elites or SH
thought infant formula was "better" even if the western-educated
technocrats in the health ministry and hospitals knew it was not.  Perhaps
the person or persons at the top thought the formula would promote an image
among the population of a leader who looked after his children, and
maintaining the image of a caring leader matters more than promoting public
health.  As for the boiling of water, perhaps a concerted public education
campaign would need to be initiated from the top, and the very top may be
preoccuped with other matters.  

Does any of this negate the complicity of the US/UK govts in the cruel and
uncessary suffering of the Iraqi people?  Of course not.  But we have to be
careful in describing the origin and development of the health crisis in
Iraq today.  Many anti-sanctions activists dismiss as propoganda charges
that the Iraqi govt is exploiting or contributing to the sanctions-induced
misery.  Clearly, the 'warehousing' charge is propoganda.  But
if--IF--other charges have more merit, then they need to be confronted. 

Why?  Because if the anti-sanctions movement begins to register on the body
politic, the the US/UK foreign policy hacks might launch a more intelligent
counterattack.  Many people active in opposing sanctions believe that the
US/UK govts is simply and solely responsible for the deaths of over 500,000

If the facts prove to be significantly  more complicated, then they might
get demoralized and drop out.  Others might try to mangle facts to fit
their beliefs, and dismiss all evidence to the contrary as
conspiracy-driven propoganda. Not only would such irratinaltiy retard the
progress of progressive political discourse, it could alienate potential
anti-sanctions allies.  

I bring all this up here beause the CASI list seems driven by people
committed to in-depth discussion of issues like this.  Hence this long post. 



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