[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
LANGUAGES
arabic
persian
pashto
turkish
french
Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 November, 2003, 09:41 GMT
Iraq 'faces severe health crisis'
Iraqi children at Baghdad hospital
The most vulnerable were hit hard by the war, the report says
The people of Iraq may have poorer health for generations as a result of the war, according to a report.

Medical charity Medact says this year's conflict disrupted immunisation programmes and destroyed water systems, increasing levels of disease.

Environmental degradation and smoke from oil fires are adding to the health problems of Iraqis, it reports.

Continuing insecurity in Iraq, along with the breakdown of public health services, are exacerbating the problem.

Death toll

Entitled Continuing Collateral Damage: the health and environmental costs of war on Iraq, the report estimates that between 22,000 and 55,000 people - mainly Iraqi soldiers and civilians - died as a direct result of the war.

There has been a reported increase in maternal mortality rates, acute malnutrition has almost doubled, and there is an increase in water-borne diseases and vaccine-preventable diseases
Dr Sabya Farooq
Report author
It says that mines and unexploded bombs continue to kill and maim.

The report says that the conflict and its aftermath have put the most vulnerable in society - women, children and the elderly - at risk.

A quarter of a million children were not vaccinated against measles once the conflict started.

Although immunisation campaigns have resumed, it has not been possible to confirm if these children received the jab.

A guide to living conditions and the reconstruction effort in Iraq

Dr Sabya Farooq, author of the charity's report, told the BBC: "It's mainly the ongoing violence and insecurity which, in addition to the breakdown of public health services, is posing the main risk to public health.

"There has been a reported increase in maternal mortality rates, acute malnutrition has almost doubled from 4% to 8% in the last year and there is an increase in water-borne diseases and vaccine-preventable diseases."

Data collection

Measuring what is happening to the Iraqi people's health is proving very difficult, the report says.

The United Nations and many aid agencies have only a minimum presence in the country and so cannot carry out the data collection necessary to initiate public health policies.

In its conclusion, the report recommends that the occupying powers allow the UN to play the central role in peacekeeping and in the humanitarian and reconstruction process.

Medact is a British-based grouping of health professionals which aims to highlight the health impacts of conflict, poverty and environmental degradation, and work to eradicate them.




RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific