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Last Updated

24 Jan 2003

Source: BBC, January 24, 2003

Doctors warn Blair over Iraq attack

Doctors have warned Tony Blair of the human cost of launching a war against Iraq.

In an open letter in two leading medical journals, over 500 staff, students and alumni from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine urged the prime minister to find a peaceful solution.

They warned the conflict could lead to hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians being killed.

They also suggested a war could have a devastating impact on the lives of millions of people, sparking famine, epidemics and a new refugee crisis.

The letter cites evidence from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations and Medact, a British charity of health professionals.

It quotes a recent Unicef report which suggests that over three million people will suffer malnutrition if war goes ahead.

It also refers to a WHO report indicating that there could be between 100,000 direct and 400,000 indirect casualties.

In addition, the letter quotes from a report by Medact which estimated that "total possible deaths on all sides during conflict and in the following three months will range from 48,000 to over 260,000".


The letter states: "Health professionals worldwide care for the casualties of war. We accept this responsibility.

"However, it is also our responsibility to argue for prevention of violence and peaceful resolution of conflict."

The group added that the impact of a war on Iraq would have international repercussions.

"We believe that a war would have disastrous short, medium, and long-term social and public health consequences - not just for Iraq, but internationally."

They added: "We oppose the use of military intervention in Iraq."

The school is considering sending a similar letter to US President George W Bush.