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Fallujah paediatrician Dr Samira Alaani has launched a Change.org petition calling for official data on rates of congenital birth defects in Iraq to be submitted for peer review in the open-access journal PLoS One after repeated publication delays by the World Health Organisation and Iraqi government (Petition is available here: www.change.org/act4iraq).
Results from the nationwide study, undertaken by the Iraqi Ministry of Health (MoH) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2012, are now long overdue. Iraqi researchers interviewed by the BBC earlier this year claimed it will link increased incidence rates of birth defects with areas subject to heavy fighting in the 2003 war – a hugely significant and politically sensitive conclusion.
Dr Alaani is calling for the data to be submitted to the leading open-access journal PloS One after persistent delays from the WHO and MoH in the analysis of the data. Publication in PLoS One would allow independent scrutiny of the data and reduce fears that the WHO’s internal process had been subject to politicisation because of the controversial nature of the study. The research was prompted by concerns from maternity hospitals across Iraq that rates of congenital birth defects were unusually high. This is the first time that rates have been recorded and analysed nationwide.
“We began logging these cases in 2006 and we have determined that 144 babies are born with a deformity for every 1000 live births. We believe it has to be related to contamination caused by the fighting in our city, even now, nearly 10 years later,” said Dr Samira Alaani, a paediatrician at Fallujah General Hospital. “It is not unique to Fallujah; hospitals throughout the Anbar Governorate and many other regions of Iraq are recording spiralling increases. Every day I see the strain this fear puts on expectant mothers and their families.” Continue reading “Iraqi doctor petitions WHO for open-access review of birth defect data”