Dr.Salam T. Ismael / Doctors for Iraq Society – 2005-06-15 08:14:00
Mr. Bush, Thanks for the Spoiled Food
BAGHDAD (June 14, 2005) — Today I am telling you about the new health system inside Iraq, which is actually a disaster and a crime against the health of the Iraqi people. A crime committed every day now in the name of freedom, free markets and the globalization of the new Iraq. A crime killing, slowly and effectively, the lives of so many Iraqi people. This is affecting men, woman, the elderly and children both now and in the future.
I quote from a speech of Mr. Bush when he said, “I went to Iraq to bring medicine, food and freedom.” Today I will tell you what type of food Mr. Bush was talking about.
When I was on my way from Jordan to Baghdad, our car was reaching the Iraqi border when I started to see a very long chain of trucks carrying boxes. They filled the side of the road and I kept smiling when I saw the scene. I was making jokes that all the trucks in Iraq are now waiting on this border point, and also I was really wondering, “What about the commercial benefit that made all those truck drivers wait in a queue for 2 weeks, in the desert until they get a chance to cross the border.”
When I reached the Iraqi checkpoint on the border, only by coincidence of my entering the health clinic in Trabeel, (the Iraqi Border point), did I find that the responsible doctor there was one of my dearest colleagues from medical school. After our greetings, I felt that he was desperate to speak and he took me to his office.
He was slightly irritable and smoking heavily while trying his best to relax before telling me anything. When he spoke he told me about this crime…he said, “First Salam, do you know what is going on here on the Iraqi border? Here there is a crime and a dangerous thing happening everyday. First of all I will tell you how things started.
The Iraqi Ministry of Health withdrew the food examination lab, (this lab was responsible of examining all the food and related materials that entered the Iraqi Borders through Jordan), from the borders to Baghdad, giving an excuse that there are not enough staff and they requested from the doctors in the border health center to take the responsibility of examining the food physically, by smelling and looking!
First of all, it is not our job to examine the food and the other thing is, how we can depend only on the smell and eyes in examination of food that millions of our people are consuming?”
Truckloads of Spoiled Food
He continued, “Do you know that most of these trucks are carrying beef, chicken, tobacco, cigarettes and many, many things? Believe me that so much of it is over the expiration dates. Sometimes I can never even open the trucks or enter inside in order to examine the food because the smell I so terrible. In addition, you can see the big colonies of fungi growing over the tobacco that we use for Shisha.”
“After all, do you know Salam that we are here under very big pressure to sign the papers of these trucks to let them enter Iraq? We are caught between the business gangs that control all this commercial business…either they are threatening us with death or they are offering us a lot of money as a bribe, in order to force us to sign these papers.
But we cannot do these things, so we refuse. But do you know that many of these trucks entering the border to Baghdad never pass through us, instead they get the signature from the responsible officials in the customs area ?”
Then he pointed to a group of papers in front of him and said that all these papers are papers of the trucks that are carrying spoiled food and they were writing over it that it is to be returned to Jordan. “I will show you evidence,” he said. “Here are documents of a truck I wrote that is carrying food not fit for human consumption.
It contained chicken meat and the date over it shows 22 March 2005. Look, the stamp over the paper when the Iraqi borders return it back to Jordan …look it was 27 March 2005.” He asked me, “What did they do in these five days and why did they not return it back to Jordan? I will tell you — for five days they were making a lot of pressure on me to sign the papers of this truck.”
I asked him what the Ministry of Health did when he told them about this. He laughed and said, “I wrote them so many letters but never received a single response from them.”
I left completely astonished about what I heard from him, as well as how big the crime is. I had so many questions in my mind, “Why is that happening, who is behind this, and how is this happening?” I promised my colleague to do what I can in order to raise awareness about what is happening there.
Any one of you , who want to make a tour in the Iraqi markets he will discover part of this crime… many many types of food materials .with no expir. Dates over it … with different origin and names of companies , and no one checking weither it s acceptable to be used by the human beings or not …
I am asking now all of you, who is responsible for this thing? Is this the freedom and the type of food that Mr. Bush promised us with? Is this the future that the new government promised us? Is this the right to quality health for the Iraqi people?
Dr.Salam T. Ismael is the General Secretary of Doctors for Iraq Society. firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Mobile Iraq : 00964 7901 963 257
Landline Iraq : 00964 1 4437512
Mobile UK : 0044 (0) 7891022381