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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 children. 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. Respectfully, Jennifer -- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email firstname.lastname@example.org, NOT the whole list. Please do not send emails with attached files to the list *** Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html ***