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Re: [casi] Justifying Mass Murder

Dear Judith and All

I think your points are really very important. Let me address some of them.

1- The allied forces deliberately bombed and destroyed some of the water
treatment and purification plants with the full knowledge of the disastrous
effects on health.  For further information see Colin Rowat posting to CASI
Nov. 6 2001, RE: evidence that US/UK targetted Iraq's water supply?

2- Speaking from personal experience the water supplied to my house has the
following "quality". It has a- Bacterial growth. b- Coliform. c- Ecoli d- no
chlor  e-Unfit for human consumption. This is documented in two official
tests by the ministry of health and the Baghdad water Authority. I live in a
very nice neighborhood. In fact the house was rented as residence of a
senior staff of the British Embassy till 1993! You can imagine the "quality"
of water in the poor areas. It took 6 years of Oil for Food program (and 12
years of sanctions) to get the all the necessary materials to install new
water distribution system, hundreds of thousands tons of pipes and fittings.
I hope to be connected to the "new" water this soon. Such "quality" ,or the
lack of it, will have a detrimental effect of the general health of the

3- Iraq during the 80's won the UNESCO prize for illiteracy eradication
campaign. A side from teaching the illiterates reading and writing public
health topics were also covered. Nurseries were created in factories and
women were given time of to breast feed their child.

4- Generally speaking the nutritional statuses of individuals were good. In
fact one of the pediatrics problems was child obesity. Baby food was
imported by the government and was very cheep and affordable.

5- During the 80's women constituted a sizable percentage of the work force.

6- Medical services were free, medicine was given at a very low subsidized
prices. Family planning and antenatal clinics were abundant, well staffed,
and well equipped. A program was initiated to encourage "safe home delivery"
. Specially equipped "ambulances" were imported and staffed for this

7- It goes with out say that the psychological and environmental conditions
were a lot better than now.

All these programs had been badly affected by the sanctions.

8- I have to disagree with you on the health economics issue. Yes open heart
surgery is a lot more expensive than preventing diarrhea. You can save a lot
of children for the price of one operation but what about the social cost?
Are old people, with all kind of aliments, a "liability" on the health
system and should not be treated because we could better use the resources
to reduce child mortality? How do you train future doctors on the "non
profitable" specialty?  The health system has to strike a balance between
the need to prevent disease, treat the sick, and train the future doctors.
The health statistics are the means to measure the effectiveness of the
medical systems and is not the aim of it. I am sure we can write pages and
pages on this. I will stop at this point.

Best regards

Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar

Baghdad, Iraq

----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: <>
Sent: Saturday, June 01, 2002 2:29 PM
Subject: Re: [casi] Justifying Mass Murder

> I would like to make some comment about the effect of hospitals on health,
> which may put the health issue into context, particularly as it relates to
> sanctions and hospitals in Iraq.
> In one course in health economics which I studied a few years ago, the
> of hospitals on health was considered.  I can't remember the exact
> but if all hospitals throughout the world were closed down, the effect on
> overall life expectancy really would be minimal, in terms of months at
> it may have even been days or weeks, I remember feeling totally shocked
> I first saw the figures.   That doesn't mean that certain people get their
> life expectancy dramatically improved by a particular operation - for
> example, appendicectomy, heart surgery, but taken as a whole population it
> makes little difference.
> What improves life expectancy is education, particularly of women (this
> the biggest effect of all in improving child survival, the more years
> education the mother has OF ANY SORT, the longer her children are likely
> survive), good food, good hygiene, waste and sewage disposal, controlling
> environment (eg., temperature control, keeping out water and damp,
> controlling insects and other vectors of disease).  The effect of good GP
> style treatment or good pharmacy advice would also be a factor in
> quality and quantity of life, far more than hospital care. Even
> programmes in poor countries have been shown to have nil effect on the
> of children who survive to the age of 5, because if you are very poor, if
> don't die from measles you will die from diarrhoea.  Its a simple as that.
> So whilst we need to consider sanctions in some respect in terms of
> care available, pre-the Gulf War and after, it makes very little
> to life expectancy of ordinary people. It seems to me that the major
> of the war and sanctions which adversely affect life expectancy in Iraq
> (1) Reproductive health, including fitness of mothers, child spacing
> practices, hygiene, breastfeeding, attendent at birth who has at least
> knowledge, all adversely affected in some way by sanctions.  For example,
> mothers can't work or if some of their children die, they are more likely
> have more children who are then more at risk. Also repeated pregnancy puts
> them and their unborn child at risk. Another example, if there is a lack
> training and health text books then some women may have a less safe birth
> situation.
> (2) Water issues, and the hygiene issues which arise.
> (3) Poverty in general, including the cost of food and availability of
> (4) Contamination causing illness, including cancers and birth
> (5) Restrictions on education.
> (6) Risk due to dangerous machinery which cannot be repaired effectively,
> including cars.
> (7) Psychological factors, including the will and motivation to live.  By
> this I don't mean suicide risk, but a person with a lot to lose will fight
> harder when it comes to facing illness and will not succumb so easily.
> (These risks are not in order of importance)
> I hope this reduces the emphasis on the debate relating to the types of
> hospitals and care available for ordinary people in Iraq, as it really is
> only of very minor importance.  Unfortunately, hospitals provide status
> health workers and are visible symbols of health care, and in all
> developed and developing, they are over-emphasised because of the
> of medical staff and patients and misunderstanding of what health is - it
> not merely the treatment of disease.
> Judith.
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