Save the Children have released their annual State of the World’s Mothers Report [PDF], and it paints a harsh picture of what the US has done to Iraq. Back in 1990, Iraq was once "the envy of the Arab world" for its health statistics and low child mortality. But a decade of sanctions followed by an illegal and immoral war has reduced it to one of the worst countries in the world for infant mortality and put it on a par with sub-Saharan Africa. In 1990, the child mortality rate (strictly, mortality of under-5's) was 50 per thousand live births. Now it's 125 - so one in eight Iraqi children don't live to see their fifth birthday. As the report points out, this is the worst backwards regression in the world, and the report blames it fairly and squarely on the international sanctions regime and on the US invasion and subsequent collapse in living standards. As for how much of the increase is attributable to either, looking back at the 2001 and 2004 reports [both PDF], it seems Iraq was beginning to make progress and claw back some of the ground lost under the sanctions regime; the 2001 report gave infant mortality as 104 deaths per thousand live births, while it had dropped to 102 by 2004. Since then, it has skyrocketed again: according to the report,
Conservative estimates place increases in infant mortality following the 2003 invasion of Iraq at 37 percent.
But hey, at least those babies died free, right?