Infant Mortality Soars in Iraq

Save the Children and the National Center for Health Statistics have released their latest studies of infant mortality rates around the world. While the rate in the U.S. remains about the same, the rate in Iraq is soaring:

Two wars and a decade of sanctions have led to a huge rise in the mortality rate among young children in Iraq, leaving statistics that were once the envy of the Arab world now comparable with those of sub-Saharan Africa.

A new report shows that in the years since 1990, Iraq has seen its child mortality rate soar by 125 per cent, the highest increase of any country in the world. Its rate of deaths of children under five now matches that of Mauritania.

The U.S. report is here.

< How About Congress Gives Bush Until April 1 2008? | Fort Dix Attack Suspects Arrested >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Three wars (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Che's Lounge on Tue May 08, 2007 at 05:37:35 PM EST
    You forget 8 years of the Iran/Iraq war, fed by the Pentagon.

    Desert Storm and Sanctions (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by squeaky on Tue May 08, 2007 at 06:30:30 PM EST
    Just in case anyone has forgotten:

    Iraq's agriculture and food-processing storage and distribution system was attacked directly and systematically. Half of Iraq's agricultural production came from irrigated lands, and all of the irrigation systems serving them-including storage dams, barrages, pumping stations, and drainage projects-were attacked. Farmers lost the ability to flood or drain land, cutting food production in half. Widespread saltwater intrusion occurred in Basra province. At least three food warehouses in the Baghdad province were hit, seven were struck in Asra province, and all of Iraq's General Company of Foodstuffs warehouses in Al-Qadissiya province were destroyed. Important pesticide storage was destroyed. Three separate facilities of the Iraqi Dates Company were damaged.

    Iraq's factory in Abu Ghraib to produce baby milk powder, unique to the region, was attacked on January 20, 21, and 22. Although the Pentagon claimed it was a chemical plant, the attacks were simply part of the deliberate targeting of Iraq's food production. The Al-Ma'mun vegetable oils factory and the sugar factory in Meisan Province were hit. In Al-Taji, a small town near Baghdad, the country's biggest frozen-meat storage and distribution center was destroyed. It was bombed three times in one day-at 8 a.m., 3 p.m., and 8 p.m.

    Farm herds were decimated-three and a half million sheep from a total of ten million and two million cattle were lost by summer, primarily from feed shortages. Ninety percent of the country's poultry production was destroyed.

    Grain silos across the entire country were hit methodically, and hundreds of farms and farm buildings were attacked. The nation's tractor assembly plant and major fertilizer plant were destroyed in bombing raids that took sixteen lives.

    In June 1992, more than a year after Iraq was driven from Kuwait and with sanctions still in place, the United States burned grain and wheat fields with incendiary bombs near Mosul in northern Iraq.

    U.S. bombing hit twenty-eight civilian hospitals and fifty-two community health centers. Zubair Hospital in Basra province totally collapsed from bombing. At the Ibn Rashid Mental Hospital, southeast of Baghdad, ceilings collapsed onto patients' beds. At Ulwiyya Maternity Hospital, shrapnel and broken glass hit babies and mothers. The student health clinic and school in Hilla was bombed. Five of Iraq's military medical facilities were also damaged....

    As the infrastructure and life-support systems were being bombed, Iraqi civilians were killed by the thousands. Attacks on life-support systems assured that many more thousands would perish, even though they might be far from the line of fire.

    The bombing of Iraq took more than 150,000 lives outright and left a broken and bleeding nation....

    ...Total U.S. war casualties, including thirty-seven acknowledged to have died from "friendly fire," were 148, according to the Pentagon....

    The overall death rate from monitored causes due to the sanctions has increased each year since 1989. For children under age five the increase in deaths exceeds a multiple of eight, from 7,100 in 1989 to 57,000 in 1996. For persons over age five the death rate has increased more than four times, from 20,200 to 83,200. Diseases related to malnutrition continue to increase. Kwashiorkor, virtually unknown in 1989, has increased nearly sixty times to reach 21,000 cases last year, marasmus fifty times to 192,000 cases last year. Other malnutrition-related illnesses have increased eighteen-fold to 1,354,000 cases in 1996.

    Sicknesses related to poor sanitation continue a steady increase. Last year amebic dysentery was up twenty-seven-fold to 243,000 cases. Malaria increased more than seven-fold to 32,000 cases. Typhoid fever increased eight times to 15,000 cases. Scabies has increased from no cases in 1989 to 37,000 in 1996. Cholera is up from no cases to more than 3,000 in 1997 through September.....

    The total cost in lives directly resulting from UN sanctions is now 1,500,000 deaths over the normal death rate...

    These tragic statistics do not convey the human horror of the sanctions....

    Ramsey Clark

    More (PDF)

    And now it is worse, imagine that.

    a few more statistics (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by conchita on Tue May 08, 2007 at 08:18:04 PM EST
    THE DEVASTATED HEALTH OF IRAQI CHILDREN: The combination of sanctions, war and occupation has resulted in Iraq showing the world's worst evolution in child mortality: from an under-five mortality rate of 50 per 1000 live births in 1990, to 125 in 2005. That means an annual deterioration of 6.1 per cent -- a world record, well behind very poor and AIDS- affected Botswana. At the outset of the 2003 war, the US administration pledged to cut Iraq's child mortality rate in half by 2005. But the rate has continued to worsen, to 130 in 2006, according to Iraqi Health Ministry figures.

    Nutrition is, of course, vital to health. According to the United Nations Children's Agency (UNICEF), about one in 10 Iraqi children under five are underweight (acutely malnourished) and one in five are short for their age (chronically malnourished). But this is only the tip of the iceberg, according to Claire Hajaj, communications officer at the UNICEF Iraq Support Centre in Amman. "Many Iraqi children may also be suffering from 'hidden hunger' -- deficiencies in critical vitamins and minerals that are the building blocks for children's physical and intellectual development," Hajaj says. "These deficiencies are hard to measure, but they make children much more vulnerable to illness and less likely to thrive at school." Hayder Hussainy, a senior official at the Iraqi Ministry of Health, states that approximately 50 per cent of Iraqi children suffer from some form of malnourishment.

    Also important is the psychological impact of war and occupation. In a study entitled "The Psychological Effects of War on Iraqis", the Association of Iraqi Psychologists (AIP) reports that out of 2,000 people interviewed in all 18 Iraqi provinces, 92 per cent said they feared being killed in an explosion. Some 60 per cent of those interviewed said the level of violence had caused them to have panic attacks, which prevented them from going out because they feared they would be the next victims. The AIP also surveyed over 1,000 children across Iraq and found that 92 per cent of children examined had learning impediments, largely attributable to the current climate of fear and insecurity. "The only thing they have on their minds are guns, bullets, death and a fear of the US occupation," says the AIP's Marwan Abdullah.

    from the al-ahram weekly april 5-11, 2007 via jerome a paris who broke it down to "1 Iraqi child in 8 won't live to be 5 years old."

    and in case anyone is wondering what the u.s. is doing to help alleviate malnutrition:  

    US soldiers driving bulldozers, with jazz blaring from loudspeakers, have uprooted ancient groves of date palms as well as orange and lemon trees in central Iraq as part of a new policy of collective punishment of farmers who do not give information about guerrillas attacking US troops.

    patrick cockburn at commondreams

    US infant mortality, Bush treason (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Aaron on Tue May 08, 2007 at 11:11:31 PM EST
    Infant mortality and the child death rate in the United States have both increased significantly under the Bush administration, especially in the South, and especially among African-Americans and Latinos.

    It ain't no coincidence that children start dying in larger numbers whenever the conservative Republicans are in power, their prosperity is always at the expense of those who are most vulnerable and least able to defend themselves.  This is their modus operandi

     George Bush and the members of the Bush White House are traitors to the United States of America, criminals who must be indicted and tried for their crimes against our nation, Iraq and humanity.

    Indict the traitors and save the children.

    whose fault? (1.00 / 1) (#11)
    by diogenes on Tue May 08, 2007 at 11:22:35 PM EST
    The alternative to the embargo was letting saddam have lots of cash to rearm and start a third war.  If he had lots of cash along with political power then our troops would still be in Saudi Arabia--which was Bin Laden's chief complaint when he blew up the World Trade Center.  The reason for social chaos since Saddam's fall was anarchists of various sorts who don't want a stable Iraqi government for their own reasons.  

    Enough to make you weep? (none / 0) (#1)
    by desertswine on Tue May 08, 2007 at 02:25:10 PM EST
    Figures collated by the charity show that in 1990 Iraq's mortality rate for under-fives was 50 per 1,000 live births. In 2005 it was 125.

    Constant expolsions.... (none / 0) (#2)
    by kdog on Tue May 08, 2007 at 02:28:13 PM EST
    are bad for the public health...who would have thunk it!

    Hooray for us!!! 26th!! Alright!!! (none / 0) (#3)
    by desertswine on Tue May 08, 2007 at 02:33:11 PM EST
    Among industrialized countries, Iceland had the best child survival rate, and Romania the worst. The U.S. placed 26th, tied with Croatia, Estonia and Poland. Nearly seven children die for every 1,000 live births in the United States. That was more than double the rate in Iceland, and 75 percent higher than rates in the Czech Republic, Finland, Japan and Slovenia.

    This is a tradgey, but... (none / 0) (#4)
    by Strick on Tue May 08, 2007 at 02:45:55 PM EST
    Jeralyn, you may have forgotten the UNICEF study that showed Iraq's infant mortality rate increased rapidly as the result of scarcities caused by UN sanctions imposed in the 90s.  The horrifying statistics were used to justify the Food For Oil program and, later, the attempts to end sanctions all together.  I seem to remember that infant mortality rates went down after FFO was introduced.  It's not hard to google the studies up and get the information in context.  Of course, it did happen quite a while ago.

    Read this article again.  Isn't it odd the way the statistics are quoted from 1990 to the present?  The specific way that a the results of a 1999 report from before the war is cited but almost nothing more recent?  Doesn't the way the stats are put in this article cause your BS detector to tingle just a bit?

    If infant mortality rates are still high, I'll agree that something needs to be done.  To convince me of that, you're going to have to show me the trends leading up to and after the war, not quote numbers that are clearly unrelated to the war however tragic.  Let me say that more clearly.  Everything article says but one was true before the war.  The war may not have helped the situation, but it didn't cause it.

    No offense, it's easy to be fooled by people who abuse statistics.  This article seems designed to manipulate the numbers and create just the kind of reaction you had without really telling you the whole story. Please look again.

    BTW, the estimate of 500,000 deaths related to sanctions is much higher than estimates of the number of Iraqis killed during the war or in the violence after it.  Much higher than the estimates of the number of Iraqis Saddam murdered.  And those least able to defend themselves suffered most.  Maybe some things are worse than war.

    Not exactly (none / 0) (#7)
    by Sailor on Tue May 08, 2007 at 05:54:21 PM EST
    BTW, the estimate of 500,000 deaths related to sanctions is much higher than estimates of the number of Iraqis killed during the war or in the violence after it.
    Not exactly.
    The first survey[1] published on 29 October 2004, estimated the risk of death following the 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq to be 50% higher than that prior to the invasion. This led to an estimate of 98,000 excess deaths (with a range of 8,000 to 194,000, using a 95% CI (confidence interval).
    The second survey[2][3][4] published on 11 October 2006,[...] allowing for a 95% confidence interval of 392,979 to 942,636 excess Iraqi deaths.

    An apology (none / 0) (#5)
    by Strick on Tue May 08, 2007 at 04:34:16 PM EST
    I probably owe the Belfast Telegraph an apology.  The way UNICEF publishes its data, I can see how the article might cite the statistics the way it did.

    On the other hand, there is some important information missing.  In their 1999 report, UNICEF estimated that infant mortality in Iraq in 1995 was 129 per 1000.  Since the 2005 estimate is 125 per 1000, it's not fair to say that mortality rate "is" soaring.  Most of the soaring occurred in the four years after Saddam invaded Kuwait, was pushed back to his own borders, and incurred UN sanctions, not in recent years as it's probably easy to assume.

    The figures show the Iraqi didn't make infant mortality worse, but they do show it's not getting better fast enough.

    But the US did ... (none / 0) (#12)
    by Sailor on Wed May 09, 2007 at 11:57:02 AM EST
    ... give saddam lots of cash ... under the table, a large portion of which came from a corporation that condi rice was a member of Chevron's board and led its public policy committee, which oversaw areas of potential political concerns for the company.

    And the US helped fund and arm iraq's war against iran.

    The reason for social chaos since Saddam's fall was anarchists of various sorts who don't want a stable Iraqi government for their own reasons.
    No, it's called a civil war. We introduced anarchy and destruction to a country that had no WMDs and no ability to hurt the US.