by Denis Halliday
September 13, 2013
Health Organization (WHO)
has categorically refused in defiance of its own
mandate to share evidence uncovered in Iraq that
use of Depleted Uranium
and other weapons have not only killed many
civilians, but continue to result
birth of deformed babies.
This issue was first brought to light in
2004 in a WHO expert report,
“on the long-term health of Iraq’s
civilian population resulting from depleted uranium (DU)
This earlier report was “held secret”,
namely suppressed by the WHO:
The study by three leading radiation
scientists cautioned that children and adults could contract
cancer after breathing in dust containing DU, which is
radioactive and chemically toxic.
But it was blocked from publication
by the World Health Organization (WHO), which employed the main
author, Dr Keith Baverstock, as a senior radiation advisor.
He alleges that it was deliberately
suppressed, though this is denied by WHO.
(See Rob Edwards, WHO
‘Suppressed’ Scientific Study Into Depleted Uranium Cancer Fears
Almost nine years later, a joint
WHO-Iraqi Ministry of Health Report on cancers and birth defect in
Iraq was to be released in November 2012.
“It has been delayed repeatedly and
now has no release date whatsoever.”
To this date the WHO study remains
Hans von Sponeck,
former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations,
“The US government sought to prevent the
WHO from surveying areas in southern Iraq where depleted uranium had
been used and caused serious health and environmental dangers.”
(quoted in Mozhgan Savabieasfahani,
Rise of Cancers and Birth Defects in Iraq:
World Health Organization Refuses to Release Data, July
tragedy in Iraq reminds one of US
Chemical Weapons used in Vietnam, and that the US has failed to
acknowledge or pay compensation or provide medical assistance to
thousands of deformed children born and still being born due to
American military use of Agent Orange
throughout the country.
The millions of gallons of this chemical
dumped on rural Vietnam were eagerly manufactured and sold to the
Pentagon by companies
Monsanto and others greedy for huge
Given the US record of failing to
acknowledge its atrocities in warfare, I fear those mothers in Najaf
and other Iraqi cities and towns advised not to attempt the birth of
more children will never receive solace or help.
A United Nations that is no longer corrupted
by the five Permanent Members of the Security Council is what
Rise of Cancers and Birth Defects in
World Health Organization Refuses to Release
by Mozhgan Savabieasfahani
30 July 2013
World Health Organization (WHO) and the Iraqi Ministry of
Health: (New signatures added)
The back-breaking burden of cancers
and birth defects continues to weigh heavily on the Iraqi
The joint WHO and Iraqi Ministry of
Health Report on cancers and birth defect in Iraq was originally
due to be released in November 2012. It has been delayed
repeatedly and now has no release date whatsoever.
By March 2013, staff from the Iraqi
Ministry of Health announced (below video) that
this report will show an increase in cancers and birth defects
due to the explosions of war.
This was broadcasted repeatedly on
Therefore we are baffled and alarmed
at the WHO’s inability to release any of its findings, despite
our urgent request of May 2013, for the WHO to release its
The Iraqi birth defects epidemic, by
itself, would outrage anyone with the simplest understanding of
population health and disease. Who could justify blocking the
release of information from a long-completed investigation of
Why have our inquiries failed to
break the WHO’s apparent filibuster against releasing that data?
WHO has a staff of thousands, including medical doctors, public
health specialists, scientists, and sophisticated
epidemiologists. They are certainly capable of presenting that
data to the public by now.
The need for a timely response to
public health emergencies (such as the one unfolding in Iraq) is
at the heart of all epidemiological studies. Delivering adequate
and timely population relief should be the focal point of this
WHO report - but where is the report? Where is the data which
was clearly summarized (without numbers) on the BBC in March
We are now told that some new
decisions were taken
during a June 25th 2013 meeting between
WHO and high level authorities of the Iraqi Ministry.
They decided that not even a few
bits of that birth-defects report can be released before WHO
jumps these new hurdles:
“additional analyses not
“in addition to further
analyses, it was determined the work should also undergo
the scientific standard of peer review”
recruitment of a “team of
independent scientists… to review the planned analyses”
“preparation for that
“a summary report of that
“key findings from the
analysis” to be released following steps 1-5 above
To an untrained ear, these might
sound like reasonable explanations. We are certainly not
opposed to additional steps like analyses, peer review, etc.
Yet none of those steps should be
interposed as excuses for further delay in releasing the data
which is already known. If it was known in March 2013, when the
BBC broadcasted the Iraqi Ministry’s comments on that data, then
surely now that information can be released.
Why is it still treated like a state
However, large-scale epidemiological
studies, such as the WHO report on Iraq birth defects, are
expensive to fund. Hence, highly competitive proposals are
elicited for such studies. It is a matter of routine practice to
include a detailed study time-line in such proposals from the
beginning - not at the end.
The time-line routinely includes an
estimation of time for data analysis and reanalysis, followed by
publication of findings (i.e. peer-review). This normally means
there is a clear and defined timeframe in which the data is
expected to be published.
The originally reported release date
(November 2012) is now long gone. So yes, the continuing delay,
augmented by fresh excuses for more delay, concerns us.
The past record of the WHO when
dealing with related findings from the region are also a source
of serious concern.
The British Medical Journal
article entitled "WHO suppressed evidence on effects of
depleted uranium, expert says" in November 2006. It suggested
that earlier WHO reports were compromised by the omission of a
full account of depleted uranium genotoxicity.
Additionally, recent revelations by
Hans von Sponeck, the former Assistant Secretary General
of the United Nations, suggest that WHO may be susceptible to
pressure from its member states.
Mr. von Sponeck has
“The US government sought to
prevent WHO from surveying areas in southern Iraq where
depleted uranium had been used and caused serious health and
Given the urgent public health
crisis in Iraq, we the undersigned encourage the WHO and the
Iraqi Health Ministry to release all available data from their
completed study on birth defects and cancers immediately.
The Iraqi people’s health will be
further harmed if you continue to delay that release. Allowing
the public to examine that data cannot possibly hamper the WHO’s
own expanded analysis.
Affiliations are listed only for
identification purposes, unless otherwise indicated:
Muhsin Al-Sabbak , Professor of
Obstetrics & Gynecology, Al Basrah Maternity Hospital,
Susan Sadik Ali, Professor of
Dentistry, Al Basrah Maternity Hospital, Basrah, Iraq.
Researcher, Environmental Toxicologist, Tehran, Iran.
Saeed Dastgiri, Professor of
Epidemiology, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz,
Azadeh Shahshahani, National
Lawyers Guild, Atlanta, Georgia U.S.A.
As`ad AbuKhalil, Professor,
Dept. of Politics, California State University, Stanislaus;
Maged Agour MD, Consultant
A Haroon Akram-Lodhi, Chair of
the Department of International Development Studies Trent
Izzeldin Abuelaish, Associate
Professor of Global Health, University of Toronto, Canada.
Michael Albert, American
activist, economist, speaker, and writer.
Riad Bacho, Associate Professor,
Lebanese University, Beirut, Lebanon.
Haim Bresheeth, Professor of
film studies, filmmaker, photographer, University of East
David O. Carpenter, M.D.
Director, Institute for Health and the
Environment, Professor, Environmental Health Sciences,
School of Public Health, University at Albany, N.Y.
Noam Chomsky, Professor of
linguistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, U.S.A.
Blaine Coleman, Human rights
activist and attorney, U.S.A.
Michael Collins, Professor, UCLA
School of Public Health, Department of Molecular Toxicology,
Environmental Health Sciences, Los Angeles U.S.A.
David Cromwell Co-Editor, Media
Tom Davis, Chief Program
Officer, Food for the Hungry, U.S.A.
Peter Eglin, Department of
Sociology, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada.
Christo El Morr, Assistant
Professor of Health Informatics, York University, Canada.
Gavin Fridell, Canada Research
Chair in International Development Studies, Saint Mary’s
Irene Gendzier, Professor, Dept
of Political Science, Boston University, USA.
Jess Ghannam, Professor,
Department of Psychiatry, and Global Health Sciences
University of California, San Francisco, USA.
Prof. David Ingleby, Centre for
Social Science and Global Health, University of Amsterdam,
Kazuko Ito, Secretary General,
signing on behalf of Human
Rights Now, Japan.
Ms. Nahoko Tahako, Human
Rights Now, Japan.
Jon Jureidini Professor and
Child Psychiatrist, Department of Psychological Medicine
Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Adelaide, University of
Adelaide and Senior Research Fellow Department of
Philosophy, Flinders University, South Australia.
Ilan Kapoor, Professor, Faculty
of Environmental Studies, York University, Toronto, Canada.
Leili Kashani, Human rights
activist, Center for constitutional rights, U.S.A.
Michael Keefer, Professor
emeritus School of English and Theatre Studies, University
of Guelph, Guelph, Canada.
Imad Khadduri, Iraqi nuclear
David Klein, Professor of
Mathematics, California State University, Northridge, U.S.A.
Mustafa Koc, Professor,
Department of Sociology and Centre for Studies in Food
Security, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.
Hans Koechler, Professor and
Chair of Political Philosophy and Philosophical Anthropology
University of Innsbruck, President of the International
Progress Organization, Vienna, Austria.
Malcolm Levitt, School of
Chemistry, University of Southampton, U.K.
Drake Logan Civilian-Soldier
Alliance, Right to Heal Initiative Right to Heal/Operation
Recovery Research Team New York, United States.
Rudy List, Professor Emeritus,
Mathematics, University of Birmingham, U.K.
Ken Loach, television and film
Moshe Machover, Professor
Emeritus of philosophy, King’s College, London, U.K.
Arthur MacEwan, Professor
Emeritus of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Boston,
Mary Anne Mercer, DrPH, Senior
Mother & Child Health Advisor, on behalf of Health
Alliance InternationalSeattle, U.S.A.
David Nicholl, MD, Consultant
Neurologist, Birmingham, U.K.
David Ozonoff, Professor of
Environmental Health, Boston University, Boston, U.S.A.
David Peterson, Chicago-based
writer and researcher. U.S.A.
Mr. John Pilger, journalist and
film director. U.K.
Elaine Power, Associate
Professor, School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen’s
University Kingston, Canada.
Hilary Rose, Professor of Social
Policy, University of Bradford Emerita Professor of Genetics
and Society, Gresham College, London, former consultant to
the WHO Copenhagen, Denmark.
Steven Rose, Emeritus Professor
of Biology (neuroscience) Department of Life Health and
Chemical Sciences The Open University Milton Keynes, MK76AA
Emeritus Professor of Physick (Genetics and Society) Gresham
Professor Jonathan Rosenhead,
Department of Management, London School of Economics.
Pamela Spees, Senior Staff
Attorney, on behalf of Center for Constitutional
Rights, United States.
Ruqayya Sulaiman-Hill, Centre
for Rural Health, University of Western Australia, Perth,
Susanne Soederberg, Professor of
Global Development Studies, Queen’s University, Kingston,
John Tirman, Executive Director
and Principal Research Scientist, Center for International
Studies, MIT, U.S.A.
Tahir Zaman, Center for Research
on Migration and Belonging, University of East London, U.K.