Tracking Number:  173972

Title:  "Doctors See No Malnutrition Among Iraqi Children." World Health Organization and UNICEF officials just back from a health fact-finding mission to Baghdad said they saw no malnutrition among Iraqi children during their visit. (910226)

Translated Title:  "Irak: Aucun Signe de Malnutrition Infantile." (910226)
Date:  19910226


02/26/91 1Ne Re DOCTORS SEE NO MALNUTRITION AMONG IRAQI CHILDREN (W.H.O. officials on fact-finding mission) (730) By Robin Newmann USIA European Correspondent

Geneva -- World Health Organization (W.H.O.) officials just back from a health fact-finding mission to Baghdad said they saw no malnutrition among Iraqi children during their week-long visit, no civilian casualties, and no disease epidemics.

However, they told reporters in Geneva February 23, soon after their return, epidemics of water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid "could arise in the future" because of problems of finding adequate supplies of safe water and of sanitation as a result of the war.

One of the leaders of the mission, Dr. Ali Khogali, from W.H.O.'s regional office for the Eastern Mediterranean, said that "one of the major problems" in Baghdad is that of safe water supply and sanitation, since currently only five percent of normal water supplies are available, and that water is often not safe to drink because of a shortage of water purification chemicals.

Combined with the problem of sewage disposal, Khogali said that "the records" in health care facilities they visited indicated that diarrheal disease outbreaks in children had gone up fourfold and that there was an increase in acute respiratory infections."

However, Khogali added, "we have not seen any malnutrition cases" among Iraqi children.

Dr. Anneke Verster, W.H.O.'s regional adviser on nutrition, who also took part in the visit, said "there are no hard figures to substantiate" reports of malnutrition among children in the country. "There are reports of children losing weight -- mothers state that the children are not eating as well as before," she said.

"Iraq was a country where there was no malnutrition at all in children -- children tend to be overnourished," she explained. "What you see at present is that the children are obviously eating less, they have much more diarrhea, they are very stressed, which will interfere with food intake."

GE 2 POL207 The joint mission to Baghdad, by W.H.O. and the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF), went to Iraq February 16-23, to assess the essential health care needs in Iraq and deliver a shipment of emergency medical supplies to assist in the care of children and mothers in all areas under Iraqi control.

Dr. Khogali said the supplies had been delivered to Iraqi government medical stores in Baqubah, north of Baghdad. He said the shipment comprised 54 tons of medical supplies for mothers and children, sufficient for two million people over three months.

Asked if any of the supplies would be going to Kuwaiti mothers and children, Khogali said "this matter was not discussed" with the Iraqi authorities. He recalled the mandate of the mission was for the supplies to be used for all populations "under the administration of the government of Iraq."

The other problem affecting children in Iraq is that of child immunization, which has been substantially reduced because of a lack of vaccines and inadequate refrigeration for storing them, Khogali said. He mentioned as well the need for emergency drugs, in particular antibiotics.

Khogali said it was "very clear" that health-care services had been disrupted for mothers and children as a result of the war, and that the mission noticed this after visiting urban, suburban and rural health care facilities. He also said that, according to the Iraqi authorities, the health care situation was worse in other parts of the country.

On the question of civilian casualties, Khogali said "we haven't seen any injured people, whether in Baghdad or outside Baghdad, and we have not be shown any injured people in the hospitals we visited, (or) in the health centers."

Khogali said the only deaths they were aware of were at a hospital where they were told children had died of leukemia because of a lack of drugs. "But we didn't have other reports," he said.

Khogali said two hospitals in Baghdad were visited by the team and in them "there were no civilian casualties."

He also said the team had not seen any people living in camps or shelters, as a result of the allied bombing campaign. And although they visited the destroyed military bunker that Iraq claimed had been a civilian shelter, they were not shown any people injured in the shelter. NNNN

File Identification:  02/26/91, PO-207; 02/26/91, AE-210; 02/26/91, AR-225; 02/26/91, EP-218; 02/26/91, EU-209; 02/26/91, NE-207; 02/27/91, AF-307
Product Name:  Wireless File
Product Code:  WF
Languages:  French
Thematic Codes:  1UN; 1NE
Target Areas:  AF; AR; EA; EU; NE
PDQ Text Link:  173972; 174261