„Life in Baghdad Today: Thirteen Years After the U.S. Invasion, What is the State of Public Health„
by Riyadh Lafta, MD, PhD
October 27, 2016, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
„Dr. Riyadh Lafta is a Professor of Medicine at Mustansiriya College of Medicine in Baghdad, Iraq, and has been a partner and Affiliate Professor at the University of Washington Department of Global Health for the last decade. We have conducted several war-related health research projects together, including a hospital-based study of leukemia among children in Basra, a household survey study of Iraq mortality attributable to the U.S. invasion, and another survey study of disability and injury in Baghdad. In all this time, our work has been conducted remotely or during meetings in Erbil or Vancouver BC. The UW’s Department of Global Health has sought to bring Dr. Lafta to Seattle since 2006, but war-related instability made it impossible for him to obtain a visa for travel until this year.” (https://www.facebook.com/events/312116955818785/)
- Iraqi Researcher to Speak at UW by Bobbi Nodell (October 19, 2016, University of Washington Department of Global Health website):
„Lafta has been involved in several well-publicized studies estimating Iraqi mortality after the U.S. led invasion. The first studies published in The Lancet in 2004 and 2006 based on household surveys estimated mortality figures higher than several other reports.
He was also co-author of a 2013 study published in PLOS Medicine that concluded at least 461,000 “excess” Iraqi deaths occurred in Iraq between 2003 and 2011. Those were defined as fatalities that would not have occurred in the absence of an invasion and occupation. For the study, a team of Iraqi physicians visited 2,000 randomly selected homes and asked residents to recount all family deaths that had occurred in the period beginning two years before the invasion, through 2011. The researchers then extrapolated a crude death rate and applied that to Iraqi’s estimated population of more than 32 million.
Lafta is in the United States to address the American Public Health Association meeting next month in Denver on a scientific session on war and health.
Lafta received his medical degree from the College of Medicine/ Baghdad University 1984 and completed his PhD from the Iraqi Committee for Medical Specialization.
He has worked in Iraq hospitals (1984-1997), with the Iraq Ministry of Health (1995-97), and as a supervisor for the National Immunization Campaigns in rural areas (UNICEF, 1996-97). He’s completed several projects with the World Health Organization. His research is focused on a range of population health issues, including conflict epidemiology, malaria screening, pregnancy outcomes, vaccines, diabetes, obesity and injury.”
- Riyadh Lafta, scientist, doctor, activist finally got a US visa to speak at the University of Washington by Kathy Barker (October 28, 2016, Scientists as Citizens):
„When the US 2003 invasion of Iraq was underway, University of Washington (UW), Associate Professor of Global Health Amy Hagopian thought it would be a good idea to bring an academic from Iraq to explain what was actually happening to people in Iraq as a result of that invasion. She worked with other academics at UW, Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, and Johns Hopkins, as well as with community groups who worked with Iraq refugees and the anti-war movement. She spoke with politicians, and wrote letters, and in 2007, it almost seemed as if Lafta would be able to come. He was scheduled to give a talk at UW, but the USA still refused his visa. Canada agreed to give Lafta a visa, and he spoke at Simon Fraser University, with a crowd at UW in Seattle watching the lecture via the internet.
It is likely that one of the main reasons Lafta was denied an USA visa is his 2004 and 2006 Lancet papers on the mortality of citizens in Iraq as a result of the US invasion. Doing rather dangerous door-to-door surveys, Lafta and colleagues found mortality to be far worse than that reported by the US, which downplayed the effects of war on civilians, and there was a hostile reaction to their papers.
Lafta continued to examine the effects of war on Iraq, and Hagopian continued to work with academic and community members to bring him over. After years of effort, Lafta was awarded a US visa in 2016. On October 27, Lafta gave a talk at the University of Washington.
He ended his talk with a short film that showed before and after footage of Iraq, once busy streets and markets reduced to rubble. There was a lively question and answer session, and perhaps the sadness and hopelessness of the situation was summed up by Lafta in response to a question about his exceptions of the election on Iraq policy.
He answered simply, “No American President has ever done anything beneficial for Iraq.””
- Injury and Death During the ISIS Occupation of Mosul and Its Liberation. Results from a 40-cluster Household Survey by Riyadh Lafta, Maha A. Al-Nuaimi, PLOS Medicine, published: May 15, 2018)