In contradiction with its own mandate, the World Health Organization (WHO) continues to suppress evidence uncovered in Iraq that US military use of depleted uranium (DU) and other weapons have not only killed many civilians but are also the cause of an epidemic of birth defects and other public health issues. By refusing to release the report publicly, the WHO effectively protects the US military and its government from accountability for the resulting public health catastrophe.
A WHO and Iraq Ministry of Health report on cancers and birth defects was set to be released in November 2012, but officials have indefinitely delayed that report’s release. To this date, Denis Halliday wrote, the WHO report remains “classified.” According to the WHO, the report’s release has been delayed because its analysis needs to be evaluated by a “team of independent scientists.”
Halliday’s report drew comparisons between the Iraqi case and the legacy of health issues arising from US use of Agent Orange in Vietnam.
Meanwhile, the reality in Iraq, Mozhgan Savabieasfahani contended, is that “Iraq is poisoned.” For example, citing a peer-reviewed study that she helped conduct, Savabieasfahani wrote, “[T]hirty-five million Iraqis wake up every morning to a living nightmare of childhood cancers, adult cancers and birth defects. Familial cancers, cluster cancers and multiple cancers in the same individual have become frequent in Iraq.” Why, then, does the WHO refuse to release its study? “One possible answer,” she wrote, “was suggested on May 26 by the Guardian.”
In that article, John Pilger reported the recent comments of Hans von Sponeck, the former assistant secretary general of the United Nations: “The US government sought to prevent WHO from surveying areas in southern Iraq where depleted uranium had been used and caused serious health and environmental dangers.”
Containing information that is “essential” to inform public health policy in Iraq, the WHO report, Savabieasfahani wrote, “will enable researchers to collaborate, ask the most relevant questions and spearhead research to remedy this health emergency.”
Denis Halliday, “WHO Refuses to Publish Report on Cancers and Birth Defects in Iraq Caused by Depleted Uranium Ammunition,” Global Research, September 13, 2013, http://www.globalresearch.ca/who-refuses-to-publish-report-on-cancers-and-birth-defects-in-iraq-caused-by-depleted-uranium-ammunition/5349556.
Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, “What’s Delaying the WHO Report on Iraqi Birth Defects?” ZNet, June 12, 2013, http://zcomm.org/znetarticle/whats-delaying-the-who-report-on-iraqi-birth-defects-by-mozhgan-savabieasfahani.
Student Researcher: Jessica Clark (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Andy Lee Roth (Sonoma State University)