There’s Good News and Still Lots of Work to be Done

The Good News: Ross (Caputi, founder of the Justice of Fallujah Project) made his Kickstarter goal, so he will be able to complete his documentary “Fear Not the Path of Truth: A Fallujah Veteran’s documentary”. This is really good news for anyone who cares about justice for the babies of Fallujah, as he plans to distribute the documentary for free to both raise awareness of the situation in Fallujah, and hopefully through that, we will be able to raise funds for the babies. Awareness has to come first, as I’ve written over and over on these pages. I so admire Ross’ dedication to this cause, and I celebrate his small victory towards his goals.

The Unbelievable News:  Last month the Ministry of Health of Iraq released a summary report on a long awaited study on the prevalence of congenital birth defects in Iraq. The study, co-funded by the Iraqi Government and the World Health Organization, was based on a 2012 survey of mothers in 10 800 households from 18 Iraqi districts and basically involved going door to door to ask mothers about details of spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, and births with congenital defects since the 1980s. According to the summary posted on the WHO’s website, the study found “no clear evidence to suggest an unusually high rate of congenital birth defects in Iraq”. They only looked at the medical files of 32% of the total reported cases. This unsigned report was released quietly, with no fanfare or press. And seemed to contradict previous statements by the Ministry of Health that the study would show damming evidence that there has been a dramatic increase in birth defects in Iraq.

The Hopeful News: The respected British peer-reviewed general medical journal The Lancet just published an article critiquing the WHO and the Iraqi Government study, noting that many experts are questioning its methodology and peer review. The Lancet article is one of several pieces critical of the summary report (see here here here). And it raises some of the questions I had when I first read it…why weren’t the doctors who are dealing with the crisis surveyed? From the Lancet article:

“Samira Alaani, a paediatrician in Fallujah, Iraq, who copublished a 2011 study utilising hospital records to conclude that congenital malformations accounted for 15% of all births in Fallujah since 2003, says the new study cofunded by WHO and the Iraqi Government should have employed hospital records more comprehensively.

“Muhsin Al-Sabbak of the Basrah Medical School in Basrah, Iraq, who copublished a 2012 study reporting a 17-fold increase in birth defects in the Al Basrah Maternity Hospital since 1994, warns that the data from Basrah in the new study does not match local hospital records.”

“Alison Alborz is a specialist on learning disabilities in children at the University of Manchester, UK, who published a 2013 studypresenting data from a 2010 survey of 6032 households in four Iraqi governates including data for more than 10 000 children and young people showing a prevalence of congenital birth defects more than 2·5 times higher than reported in the Iraqi Government study. She says the new report gives little information about sampling and does not offer any discussion of whether the districts chosen for analysis “reflect the characteristics of the governorate as a whole”.

“Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, a toxicologist based in Michigan, USA, who coauthored the Alaani and Al-Sabbak studies, agrees with Alborz that the selection criteria determined by the MOH are not sufficiently explained. “Based on information available in this report, we cannot rule out selection bias issues”, she warns. She also questions the decision not to employ hospital records more comprehensively, and notes that the report suffers from a lack of detail regarding ‘which areas were exposed to bombardment or heavy fighting and which areas were not. The exposed and unexposed populations remain unidentified throughout’.”

I’ve exchanged emails with all of these caring and dedicated doctors and I trust them WAY more than that report. My hope is that their voices are taken seriously. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be Dr. Alaani, the pediatrician who works at Fallujah General Hospital and who deals with cases like these, day in and day out:

Razan is the 1st baby to her young healthy parents , she is 1 yr old born with absent Radius & fused elbow , the family was living in Joolan district & moved during the last year to Habbaneya subdistrict

Razan is the 1st baby to her young healthy parents , she is 1 yr old born with absent Radius & fused elbow , the family was living in Joolan district & moved during the last year to Habbaneya subdistrict

Sept FGH pics

Sept FGH Pics 3

So what can we do? Organize a showing of the documentary, preferably for Remember Fallujah Week, November 18 – 24 (the 9th anniversary of the second battle of Fallujah) . Think of ways that we can raise money for Dr. Alaani. Spread the word about Fallujah and the babies. Share my blog…care.

News from Fallujah General Hospital

No, I really don’t have any “news”.  It’s kind of hard to have a blog on an issue that just sits there, getting worse – or worse, just sitting there.  I understand, really. Too much sadness and too many things to be outraged over and it’s hard to keep up with it all, especially something that seems so overwhelming and so far away, and basically kind of hopeless.  I get it, I do. Since I’ve started my blog  all that I’ve done in terms of doing something, is, well, start my blog.  I’ve shared lots of links and background info on what’s been done and what’s been written and at this point that’s really about all I can do.

So, for this last post before I go away for a couple of weeks to recharge my batteries and get geared up for more action, I decided to post these images from the facebook page called the Birth Defects of Fallujah (here is the link, please “like” it, knowing that like really isn’t the right word…https://www.facebook.com/fallujahhospital2012  and of course definitely please like the Justice for Fallujah Project facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Remember-Fallujah-Project/148687775148374?hc_location=stream

I so admire Dr. Ala’ani and the staff of the Fallujah General Hospital, dealing with this,  with limited $ and no real support.  Really no words. All of these babies were born in Fallujah:

This is afemale born today in Fallujah MCH with Microcephaly , Encephalocele , Cleft lip & palate , her brother born 4 years ago with the same defects & died 5 days after birth , 2 normal two years & 11 months old sisters , the parents are young & healthy & have no previous family history of any anomaly

This is afemale born today in Fallujah MCH with Microcephaly , Encephalocele , Cleft lip & palate , her brother born 4 years ago with the same defects & died 5 days after birth , 2 normal two years & 11 months old sisters , the parents are young & healthy & have no previous family history of any anomaly

This boy born today by Cs in FMCH & died shortly after birth , he has Microphthalmia + abnormalities in his trachea & esophagus , the family have no previous anomaly

This boy born by Cs in FMCH & died shortly after birth , he has Microphthalmia + abnormalities in his trachea & esophagus , the family have no previous anomaly

 From Alshuhada'a district , Fallujah , born with chest & hand deformity , his sister married few years ago & gave birth to 3 successive babies with fatal congenital anomalies, the family have no previous history of any congenital anomaly .


From Alshuhada’a district , Fallujah , born with chest & hand deformity , his sister married few years ago & gave birth to 3 successive babies with fatal congenital anomalies, the family have no previous history of any congenital anomaly .

Hiba Sayf with Arythrogryposis & claft , female born in FGH in the 11th of february 2013 , no previous family history of any anomaly .the family live in Saglaweya , their neighbours also have ababy born few days ago with spina bifida

Hiba Sayf with Arythrogryposis & claft , female born in FGH in the 11th of february 2013 , no previous family history of any anomaly .the family live in Saglaweya , their neighbours also have ababy born few days ago with spina bifida

Male born yesterday 6-4-2013 with Hydrocephaly to ayoung healthy parents , there was no previous family history of any anomaly before .

Male born  6-4-2013 with Hydrocephaly to a young healthy parents , there was no previous family history of any anomaly before .

baby with left big toe giantism

baby with left big toe giantism

Female born yesterday in Fallujah MCH with Microcephaly & dysmorphic features , she is the 1st baby to a 2nd degree relatives healthy young parents , the family live in Jumhooreya district , Fallujah & have no previous family history of any anomaly

Female born in Fallujah MCH with Microcephaly & dysmorphic features , she is the 1st baby to a 2nd degree relatives healthy young parents , the family live in Jumhooreya district , Fallujah & have no previous family history of any anomaly

Another male born in FGH 2 days ago with multiple gross congenital anomalies in addition to CHD , he is the 1st baby to 2 young healthy couples with no previous history of any anomaly

Another male born in FGH with multiple gross congenital anomalies in addition to CHD , he is the 1st baby to 2 young healthy couples with no previous history of any anomaly

The pictures are hard to look at and the stories are hard to read…to be 100% honest, I didn’t even post some of the worst. (Like some of these, all born in January 2013: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.379635948800603.82796.179904905440376&type=1)  Can you imagine?

These are the images and these are the stories that move me, in sadness and in anger, at what the war did to these innocent babies. Do you feel it?  It’s what motivates me to keep going in this endeavor, and I hope that everyone who happens upon my blog – whether you are my dear friends or strangers that found it by chance – I hope that you can keep them in your mind as well, and help us, in whatever way you can, to find some justice. Please send ideas, suggestions, thoughts on how we can get the word out so that they can get some help.

And, I will see you on the other side of my vacation, fired up and ready to go…