171375 Partnering between U.S. and Iraqi universities: Conducting research on pediatric cancers and birth defects in Basra, Iraq, following war and sanctions

Monday, October 27, 2008: 8:30 AM

Amy Hagopian, PhD , School of Public Health, Dept of Global Health, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Riyadh Lafta, MD, PhD , Mustansiriya University, Baghdad, Iraq
Tim Takaro, MD, MS, MPH , Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada
Jenan Hassan, MD , Basra University school of medicine, Basra, Iraq
Scott Davis, PhD , Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, public health faculty and students at the University of Washington (U.W.) set out to establish a formal “sister-university” link between our school and an institution in Iraq. A relationship was eventually formed with Basra University, located in a city near Iraq's southern border with Kuwait. Our proposed session will report on several subsequent partnership activities, focusing especially on an epidemiological research project on the health effects of 15 years of war and sanctions on the children of Basra.

Iraq's national cancer registry shows a leukemia incidence rates for Iraqi children aged 0-14 have doubled between 1998 and 2001. Kidney cancers have more than doubled, and brain cancer is up 54% in the same population. In Basra, the hospitals treating children have reported the number of total childhood malignancies in 2004 totaled 200, up from 19 in 1990. In the case of leukemia, there were 15 cases at Basra hospitals in 1990, while in 2004 there were 98.

We will discuss the limitations of these data, including challenges to public health research in the setting of sanctions and war. We will also briefly mention other aspects of the sister university partnership, including attempts to send medical supplies and materials, a textbook drive, sponsoring speakers, and related activities.

Learning Objectives:
1) Discuss how academic partnership projects can advance research in fragile states 2) Evaluate the evidence for elevated levels of pediatric cancer and birth defects in Iraq generally, and especially the southern region around Basra 3) Explore hypotheses for the exposures, health systems changes, or other events that may correlate with these elevated rates

Keywords: War, Cancer

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the principal investigator on the project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.