When I arrived at Michigan in 2001, I was interested in researching effects of environmental pollutants to help protect this planet from further degradation. By 2004, wars and invasions had disfigured the face of my home, the Middle East, so much that it was no longer recognizable. By that time, the United States and Israel were both beating the drum to obliterate my country Iran.
This past summer we all witnessed what public health looks like after a high-tech military outlaw is let loose on a civilian population. Israel killed over 2,100 Palestinians and left more than 10,000 injured, many of whom will die since the hospitals, clinics and rehabilitation centers have been heavily bombed. Every one of these deaths is due to intense U.S. military and political support for Israel.
Iraq and Afghanistan were put through the same nightmare. They will be traumatized for the next century by the experience.
As global health researchers, it is our responsibility to think about how we may be able to prevent such public health catastrophes from happening ever again. I have tried to encourage the University to defend public health in the Middle East in the past.
Following my interest in public health, under virtually impossible circumstances, I developed collaborations with Iraqi doctors and published our findings with them. Our Iraq research suggests severe public contamination by metals heavily used in weapons manufacturing including lead, titanium (Savabieasfahani et al. 2014, in press) and magnesium. Simultaneously, many Iraqi children are being born with birth defects and neurodevelopmental disorders. Some of these birth defects are so severe that they have not been reported in any medical books.
Against this backdrop, my colleague, Dr. Muhsin Al-Sabbak, is coming to the United States to tour U.S. campuses with me. We will be discussing our findings on the environmental poisoning of Iraq and the epidemic of birth defects in Iraqi cities. He will arrive in Ann Arbor this Oct. 6. Our tour begins in Michigan.
Our first appearance is at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment. Those interested can come to 1040 Dana Building on Wednesday Oct. 8 at 5 p.m.. Our talks are entitled “The epidemic of birth defects in Iraq and the duty of public health researchers.”
We have also been invited to speak at Princeton, Columbia, Harvard and Boston University, among others.
Indeed students at the University of Michigan School of Public Health would benefit from our presentations. I invite the UMSPH to seize the opportunity of having an Iraqi researcher on their campus and to allow our research in Iraq to become widely known to their student body. We all know that Iraq is in shambles because of the outlaw behavior of the U.S. government.
As public health researchers, we are responsible to all people of the globe. A one-hour presentation to UMSPH students would be of immense value to their global health mission.
Mozhgan Savabieasfahani is an Ann Arbor resident.