War in the Time of Cholera
Iraq’s water, sewage, and waste systems need immediate attention to prevent drastic environmental and human health problems in the wake of war, the United Nation’s Environment Programme announced today. Earlier this week, doctors in Baghdad reported the first suspected incidents of cholera and typhoid, two potentially fatal diseases spread by poor water sanitation. Hundreds of more people are probably afflicted as well, but the country currently lacks the medical equipment to test for the diseases. More than half of the children brought for treatment to a Baghdad hospital suffered from dehydration and diarrhea, both caused by dirty water, water shortages, and other sanitation problems. The country is facing other dire consequences of the war as well, including smoke from oil-well fires; lingering radioactivity from depleted uranium; ecosystems devastated by heavy bombing and military maneuvers; and lack of electricity, which cuts off pumps that circulate water, remove sewage, and desalinate irrigation water.