1 February 2001
WHO APPEALS FOR $2 MILLION IN "FLASH" FUNDS TO TAKE FORWARD WORK ON DEPLETED URANIUM
IN BALKANS, IRAQ
The World Health Organization (WHO) today issued a "flash appeal" for close to $2 million to support activities concerning the possible effects on human health of depleted uranium (DU) used in munitions in the Gulf War and Balkans conflicts.
Over the next six months, WHO is asking for close to $2 million to:
This initial $2 million appeal will eventually form part of an estimated $20 million appeal which would cover WHO’s work in this area for the next four years. That money would allow WHO to undertake in-depth epidemiological and toxicological studies into the possible health effects of depleted uranium and other possible environmental effects on human beings in the Balkans and the Gulf.
While experts' current thinking is that the risk from exposure to DU is low, information is not sufficient for firm conclusions.
"Evidence on the incidence of cancers needs to be strengthened in communities within Iraq and the Balkans in order to draw any epidemiological conclusions," says Dr Xavier Leus, Director for the Emergency and Humanitarian Action Department of WHO. "There is also very little information on other possible risk factors for civilians and the military that may be equally important. We need to examine possible connections between risk factors and health outcomes."
"We also need evidence on the numbers of people exposed, amounts of DU involved in the various exposure situations and the concentration, distribution and presentation of environmental pollutants," Dr Leus says.
It is unacceptable, Dr Leus continued, that the current state of uncertainty about the possible health consequences of exposure to DU continues.
"Such uncertainty and the consequent levels of widespread speculation that exposure to DU may be responsible for serious health consequences such as leukaemia, as well as other implications for human health and humanitarian operations, illustrate the need to fill the knowledge gap," Dr Leus said.
While other bodies play their role in looking at the DU in terms of physical properties, radioactivity, environmental safety, legal aspects, WHO intends to ensure that sound information on levels of risk from DU is available and that the international community has the evidence needed for immediate and long-term policies and strategies vis-à-vis this problem. National and local health systems need the capacity to identify DU-related health priorities and address them in an integrated approach.
Notes on the Appeal:
1. Appealing Agency:
World Health Organization,
20 Avenue Appia, CH-12 Geneva, Switzerland
2. Title: Facing Global Concerns for the Health Effects
of Depleted Uranium
3. Beneficiary Population: Population in the Balkans and the Gulf Region
as well as Humanitarian Workers
4. Extra budgetary funds requested: US$ 1,980,000.00
5. Duration: January - June 2001
6. Contribution sought from: Humanitarian Donors
7. Grant Payment Details Swift Code UBSW CH 12A
US dollar account number CO-169-920.3
8. Contact desk in WHO/HQ Dr Khalid Shibib (for the Gulf Region)
Emergency and Humanitarian Action
Dir: Tel: +41 22 791 2988
Dr Edouard Kossenko (for the Balkans)
Emergency and Humanitarian Action
Dir: Tel: +41 22 791 2755
For further information please contact Mr Gregory Hartl, WHO Spokesperson, WHO, Geneva, Switzerland. Tel. (+41 22) 791 4458; Fax (+41 22) 791 4858; e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org All WHO Press Releases, Fact Sheets and Features as well as other information on this subject can be obtained on Internet on the WHO home page http://www.who.int/