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Please help us spread the word about this important speaking tour to raise awareness in the U.S. scientific community about the alarming rise in rates of congenital birth defects and cancers in Iraq. Dr. Muhsin Al-Sabbak, a gynecologist at Basra Maternity Hospital, and Dr. Mozhgan Savavieasfahani, an independent public health researcher, will be visiting major U.S. universities this coming October to discuss the public health crisis in Iraq. Dr. Samira Alaani, a pediatrician at the Fallujah General Hospital, will be joining them via Skype. These doctors have been amongst the few to research Iraq’s public health crisis.


Congenital birth defects and cancers have been on the rise in Iraq since 2003. In some Iraqi cities, like Fallujah, the rates are extremely high. In Fallujah, 14% of all children are born with birth defects; while the cancer rates in children are 12 times higher than what should be expected in a healthy population. The city of Basra is experiencing the highest rates of neural tube defects ever recorded. And many other localities in Iraq are experiencing similar symptoms.

Many have blamed U.S. weapons for contaminating the environment and causing this public health crisis in Iraq. However, the handful of studies that have been done on this public health crisis have not been able to determine a cause, or the source of the contamination. More research is needed to better understand the extent and cause of this crisis, and to determine possible ways to treat it.

That is why it is essential to bring these experts to the U.S. scientific community, so that they can educate the field and find partners and support for their research.

Watch Dr. Al-Sabbak discuss his research in this BBC interview.

Watch Dr. Savabieasfahani discuss Iraq’s public health crisis on Al-Jazeera.


October 8th: University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment

Dana Building 1040, 5:00-6:00 PM (Reception to follow) Flyer 

October 13th: Princeton University Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs

Robertson Hall 015, 12:15-1:00 PM

October 14th: Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

Allan Rosenfield Building, 8th Floor Auditorium, 722 W. 168th St.

11:30 AM, (Reception to follow) Flyer

October 15th: Boston University School of Public Health

12:00 PM to 1:00 PM, BU Medical Center, E. Concord St., Room 115

October 16th: Boston University School of Medicine

8:00 AM to 9:00 AM, BU Medical Center, E. Concord St., Room L112

October 17th: Harvard University School of Public Health

4:00 PM lecture, 5:00 PM reception, Kresge Building, G-2, 665 Huntington Ave. Flyer

October 21st: State University of New York at Albany Institute for Health and the Environment

October 24th: Columbia University’s School of Public Health, Program on Forced Migration and Health

October 24th & 27th: University of Washington’s Department of Global Health

October 24th: “Environmental Poisoning of Iraq: Why Academics Must Speak Out” a lecture by Dr. Mozhgan Savabieasfahani

12:30 PM, Turner Auditorium (D-209), Magnuson Health Sciences Building

October 27th: “The Epidemic of Birth Defects in Iraq: Conversations with an Iraqi Doctor”. A lecture by Dr. Muhsin Al-Sabbak

Reception: 5:30 PM, Lecture: 6:00 PM

University Temple United Methodist Church, 1415 NE 43rd St. Seattle, WA

See flyer for details.


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