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Joined: 11/15/2006
Msg: 1
Another Horseman Rides Across IraqPage 1 of 2    (1, 2)

Iraq struggles with cholera outbreak

By KATARINA KRATOVAC, Associated Press Writer Fri Oct 5, 5 46 AM ET

BAGHDAD - Majida Hamid Ibrahim seemed no different from any other victim in Iraq — her body was put in a plastic bag and sent to the morgue for relatives to collect. But authorities were already bemoaning her death.

Just days before, the 40-year-old woman from Baghdad's southern outskirts became the first confirmed cholera case in the Iraqi capital from an outbreak spreading around the country. The World Health Organization has confirmed more than 3,300 cholera cases in Iraq and at least 14 deaths from the acute and rapid dehydration it causes.

The troubles, however, also point beyond the immediate struggle to control the deadly advance.

They highlight the creeping fractures throughout the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the country's deepening sectarian gulf and a gangland-style lawlessness in which even medical supplies are fair game for bandits.

The health minister, Ali al-Shemari, fled the country after U.S. forces raided offices in February and arrested his deputy, accused of diverting millions of dollars to the biggest Shiite militia and of allowing death squads' use of ambulances and hospitals to carry out kidnappings and killings.

The government official overseeing Iraqis living abroad was brought in as acting health minister in al-Maliki's shaky Cabinet — which was further jolted by the walkout of six Sunni ministers in August.

Hospitals also are divided along Iraq's sectarian split, with Shiites and Sunnis often too scared to venture into any facility controlled by the other. For health workers, this leaves worrying gaps with cholera cases now reaching half of Iraq's 18 provinces.

The main hospital in Baqouba — the city al-Qaida in Iraq earlier this year claimed as its base in the Diyala province — was twice overrun by Sunni gunmen who kidnapped some of the Shiite patients, said a provincial health official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of fears for his safety.

Fourteen Baqouba physicians and five ambulance drivers have been killed and 12 doctors kidnapped since Diyala fighting escalated earlier this year. Gunmen often steal medical equipment and medicine from health centers and force pharmacists to give up their supplies, the official said.

Saeed al-Shimary recounted how four months ago, as he lay sick in the Baqouba hospital, gunmen fatally shot a hospital guard and took several patients away, including his relative.

"I was horrified," said al-Shimary, a teacher. The relative's body was found days later, dumped by a road.

The "bad security situation ... is preventing medical teams from reaching the residents," said Hom Suhail al-Khishali, head of the Diyala health department.

WHO has confirmed at least 3,315 cholera cases and registered more than 30,000 cases of acute watery diarrhea — which could also prove to be cholera in its more common, milder form. The group has also warned that — as the weather cools and temperatures become more favorable for transmission — the bacteria could spread further.

Dr. Naeema al-Gasseer, the WHO representative in Iraq, says the grim numbers fuel the panic, when in fact the death rate has been "very much less than 1 percent of the total outbreak."

"Let's not focus on numbers, that's not the way to deal with cholera," she said. "We must look at ways to contain it."

Cholera, usually spread by drinking contaminated water, typically causes severe diarrhea that in extreme cases can lead to fatal dehydration and kidney failure. There are normally about 30 cases registered each year in Iraq. The last major outbreak was in 1999, when 20 cases were discovered in one day.

Cholera can be controlled by treating drinking water with chlorine. But authorities want to keep tight controls on chlorine supplies after extremists earlier this year placed chlorine tanks on suicide truck bombs, killing some two dozen people in several attacks and sending noxious clouds that left hundreds of panicked people gasping for breath.

A shipment of 100,000 tons of chlorine was held up for a week at the Jordanian border last month, amid fears for its safe passage through Iraq.

Naeem al-Qabi, from Baghdad's municipal council, said the city now has a two month's supply of chlorine and "more shipments are expected."

A July report by the relief agency Oxfam and the NGO Coordination Committee network in Iraq said that about 70 percent of Iraqis are without adequate water supplies, up from 50 percent in 2003.

That includes more than 2 million people who have been displaced inside Iraq by the fighting, which has forced many to live in unsanitary conditions where sewage can infest food and water and easily spread cholera.

Tom Timberman, leader of a reconstruction team with the 4th Brigade, 25th infantry Division, said water purification and canal clearing systems have broken down due to a lack of maintenance and replacement parts.

Many purification plant workers have been killed or fled the violence, leaving the area with a lack of expertise, Timberman said. Tests at one of the water purification facilities near Iskandariyah, a town 30 miles south of Baghdad, found the filtration system wasn't working, so dirty water was just passing through the pipes.

In Mosul, about 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, officials complain that Baghdad sent them 20 tons of chlorine, while the city needs about 60 tons.

"Now we fear cholera more than the violence," said Shawan Karim, 33, a resident in the northern city of Kirkuk, which has accounted for more than two-thirds of the confirmed cholera cases.


Associated Press writers Sameer N. Yacoub, Kim Gamel, Saad Abdul-Kadir and Yahya Barzanji contributed to this story.

This is the "new and improved" Iraq?

Billions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of lives lost, a corrupt government teetering on the brink of collapse...

... and now the looming epidemic of one of the oldest known 'plagues'.

4 years later the infrastructure in major cities is still not sufficiently repaired or maintained to prevent such outbreaks from growing.

The "Marshall Plan" this ain't (even though they would want you to believe it is).
Joined: 11/15/2006
Msg: 2
Another Horseman Rides Across Iraq
Posted: 10/7/2007 2:48:43 PM

It is costing us a lot and one of the main reason we want out of there.

As it should considering the destruction of Iraq's infrastructure is a direct result of the US invasion. You destroyed, you should fix it.

Europe could not have rebuild it's infrastructure without the American aid it received after the second world war.

Hence the reference to the Marshall Plan.

Within four years of its institution, the Marshall Plan (along with the Relief and Rehabilitation program of the nascent UN) saw the rebuilding of every western European economy (except Germany) to levels that exceeded pre-war conditions.

In Iraq, however, four years has led to virtually no growth and, in many ways, further degredation. There has been little to no rebuilding of essential infrastructure, despite the claims of BushCo.

The evidence of this can be found in such issues as this looming epidemic of cholera (one of the easiest of the ancient plagues to control, all it requires is proper sanitation and water supply facilities which apparently still are not adequate). Iraq did not suffer outbreaks even close to this magnitude during the decade long sanctions, or even the 8 years of war with Iran, that preceeded the invasion.

Iraq's main source of income, its oil production, still has not recovered in a way that is able to support the economy and infrastructure. in the words of the Iraqi Oil Ministry: "We do not know the exact quantity of oil we are exporting, we do not exactly know the prices we are selling it for, and we do not know where the oil revenue is going to." This, of course, is the result of the US's efforts to place Iraqi oil production in the hands of BushCo's 'big oil' butt-buddies rather than where it belongs, in the hands of Iraq.

The US sanctioned puppet gov't of Iraq is absolutely unable to get its act together. While the relative inexperience of the current leaders is part of the problem, that problem exists largely due to the US manipulating and controlling the situation in order to have a gov't that they can control for their own interests rather than the interests of Iraq.

The sectarian violence continues because of the inability of the US forces to maintain even minimal levels of control of the situation they created (thats what happens when you invade another country with no plan or clue as to how you will make the country work afterwards) outside of the 'Green Zone'.

Like I said, the Marshall Plan this ain't.
Joined: 11/15/2006
Msg: 3
Another Horseman Rides Across Iraq
Posted: 2/14/2008 7:35:25 PM

Iraqi children infected with disfiguring skin disease: UN
Last Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2008 | 2:11 PM ET
The Associated Press

At least 275 children in southern Iraq have been infected with a disfiguring skin disease, an outbreak some health officials are blaming on the war's devastating effect on the public health system.

According to the United Nations — citing reports from Iraq's southern province of Qadissiyah — 275 children have been struck with leishmaniasis, which is spread by sand flies. Most have a form that causes skin sores, but others have a type that strikes internal organs and can be fatal.

"This is a killer disease and we are trying to stop its spread," said Dr. Omer Mekki, an epidemiologist at the World Health Organization's Iraq office.

Two types of leishmaniasis have been found in southern Iraq, according to Mekki: 212 cases of cutaneous leishmaniasis, also known as Baghdad boil disease, and 63 cases of visceral leishmaniasis, or kala azar, which is Hindi for black fever.

Cutaneous leishmaniasis is not fatal but can cause facial lesions and crater-shaped sores, leaving patients disfigured. Kala azar can kill, and causes fever, weight loss, anemia, and swelling of the spleen and liver.

Children are particularly at risk because they typically have weaker immune systems than adults. A single sand fly bite can transmit the disease.
Continue Article

Outbreaks once rare

Though the disease was first identified in Iraq more than a century ago, outbreaks were rare during Saddam Hussein's regime. But since the conflict began, experts say the destroyed health system has opened the way for diseases lurking in the environment.

"The war has exacerbated the problems in Iraq that are one or two decades old," said Claire Hajaj, a spokeswoman for UNICEF's Iraq office. "Their health system has been undermined by violence, insecurity and sabotage."

Mekki said WHO is working with the Iraqi government to conduct spraying campaigns to kill sand flies. He added that cases of leishmaniasis have dropped substantially since 2004, but progress eliminating the disease has been slow.

The incubation period can be up to six months, and some suspect the reported number of cases may be an underestimate. Patients are treated with a course of injections, which costs about $40.

Since the conflict began, hundreds of U.S. soldiers have also been infected and scarred by leishmaniasis.

Leishmaniasis also surged in Afghanistan after decades of civil war and the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. Though data about the historical number of cases are sketchy, experts say Afghanistan now has about 200,000 cases per year.

In Iraq, WHO officials estimate there are nearly 3,000 leishmaniasis cases per year. But in neighbouring Jordan, there are only about 300 cases annually.

And the "benefits" of US "liberation" continue to accrue.

How many seals are left to be broken now?
Joined: 6/16/2007
Msg: 4
Another Horseman Rides Across Iraq
Posted: 2/15/2008 9:50:03 AM
Iraq had its infrastructure--which helps a society avoid disease--blown up during the 7 yr Iran/Iraq border war, had some time to rebuild it, then we attacked it in 1991 and kept blowing up anything we thought was dual-use, since 1991.

The world war of the 1940's also destroyed infrastructure, but not for that length of time. What was rebuilt, wasn't much different from what Europe had experienced, while we are changing Polish, French, and other countries' technology in Iraq to our own.
Joined: 4/1/2006
Msg: 5
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Another Horseman Rides Across Iraq
Posted: 2/15/2008 10:08:34 AM

Like I said, the Marshall Plan this ain't.

Yep....more like the anti-Marshall Plan.

Under the Marshall Plan, monies were given to German companies to help rebuild the German economy. U.S. companies were not allowed to compete with the German companies until the German economy was back on it's feet.

In Iraq, monies are given to U.S. companies. Iraqi companies were (and still are) completely cut off from rebuilding their country.

Much of the infrastructure of Iraq has yet to be rebuilt. The U.S. companies merely took the money and ran. Many times they simply sub-contracted to other foreign companies, who sub-contracted...etc, etc...each one taking a slice of the money pie until there was no money left to do any actual rebuilding.

Example: There are (perhaps were) 17 Iraqi owned cement factories. They requested generators so they could start making cement and employ thousands of Iraqis.

The request was denied.

Instead, U.S. companies imported the cement and the workers from abroad. you have millions of people out of work, watching their infrastructure being stripped bare, companies going belly up...all because there is no way they could compete with the huge U.S. based multinationals.

Couple that with the instantaneous firing of some 400,000 soldiers, and what do you get?

An insurgency.

A really freaking big one.

If the same was to happen to the U.S., do you think Americans would act any differently?
Joined: 12/19/2006
Msg: 6
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Another Horseman Rides Across Iraq
Posted: 2/15/2008 10:51:20 AM
If only Saddam Hussein had complied with United Nations resolutions, the liberation of Iraq would not have been necessary, and this whole mess could have been avoided.
Joined: 4/1/2006
Msg: 7
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Another Horseman Rides Across Iraq
Posted: 2/15/2008 1:12:15 PM

Plus they were battle hardened by EIGHT YEARS of war with Iran!

Battle weary more like it.

Surely you're old enough to remember who aided his rise to power.

Remember that infamous photo of Rummy and Hussein? Handshakes and hug all around!

America sold chemical and biological weapons to Iraq.

It's a fact. Check it out.
Joined: 11/15/2006
Msg: 8
Another Horseman Rides Across Iraq
Posted: 2/15/2008 6:07:40 PM
what are the horsemen(4) I forget?

famine ,pestilence,plague.....???????

The remaining one is "war".

The other three are actually referred to as "conquest", "pestilence" and "death". "Pestilence" covers plague, famine, corruption and economic breakdown.
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 9
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Another Horseman Rides Across Iraq
Posted: 2/17/2008 12:54:10 PM

Iraq continues receiving aid and security but cannot get their act together as the Europeans did. Iraq has had basic facilities, services, and installations, such as transportation and communications systems, water and power lines, and public institutions including schools, post offices, and prisons built. It is costing us a lot and one of the main reason we want out of there.
The rebuilding of Germany was paid for by the invaders. The rebuilding of Iraq is paid for by Iraq, and only 4% of the money has been accounted for. The rest has been paid to American contractors and "gone missing".
Joined: 11/15/2006
Msg: 10
Another Horseman Rides Across Iraq
Posted: 2/18/2008 11:49:51 AM
Is it wrong to expound on 'metaphors'..

If I had chosen "out of the frying pan and into the fire" instead would we now be discussing the relative value of cast iron over stainless steel, aluminum-clad vs. copper-clad bottoms or electric vs. gas stoves?

The premise revolves around the most obvious element that Iraqi's are now facing the same trials and tribulations at a far more severe level than under Saddam.

Yes, cholera existed when Saddam was in charge but it was much more rare and controlled.

Yes, leishmaniasis existed when Saddam was in charge but it too was rarely seen until Iraq's infrastructure was destroyed by the US.

Yes, people died under Saddam but at a fractional rate compared to what has been seen during and since the US invasion.

The metaphor is comparative, how things must appear now vs. how they were before.
Joined: 7/5/2006
Msg: 11
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Another Horseman Rides Across Iraq
Posted: 2/18/2008 1:24:48 PM
Excellent thread.

The facts are pretty clear to unbiased observers. Iraq was indeed better off
being run by a despotic madman. I'm not being sarcastic here.
Saddam, although certifiable, was in fact one of the stabilizing factors in
the mideast. He was a moderating influence on Iran and held in check other
radical groups just by being a little crazier than they were.

At least he kept Iraq, and her people in a modicum of security
and civilization. Now they have neither.
I hold Bush/Cheney responsible for this endless tragedy.
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