• 23 December 2009
  • Posted By Bardia Mehrabian
  • Culture, Diplomacy

The Deep South Thanks the Iranian People

The Deep South has found a partner to resolve its healthcare woes: Iran.

A recent Times Online article has discovered how local health officials, consultants, and doctors working in the Mississippi Delta region have partnered with Iranian health officials and strategists to address their financial woes and lacking healthcare system.

The grim reality facing local Delta residents include:

Some of the worst health statistics in the country, including infant mortality rates for non-whites at Third World levels…The southern state has the highest levels of child obesity, hypertension and teenage pregnancy in the US. More than 20% of its people have no health insurance.

James Miller – a consultant based in Mississippi brought in to advise a hospital facing financial difficulty – was shocked when he found out Mississippi had, “the third highest medical expenditure per capita, but came last in terms of outcome.”

When mapping out a strategy to turn around the state’s appalling results, Miller recalled a European health conference where Iranian health officials presented their revolutionary healthcare policy :

Facing shortages of money and trained doctors at the start of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, the new government launched a system based on community ‘health houses’, each serving about 1,500 people.

Locals were trained as health workers known as behvarz, who would travel their area, dispensing advice about healthy eating, sanitation and contraception as well as monitoring blood pressure and conditions such as diabetes.

It was a stunning success, reducing child mortality rates by 69% and maternal mortality in rural areas from 300 per 100,000 births to 30. There are now 17,000 health houses in Iran, covering more than 90% of its rural population of 23m.

Miller, and a number of other healthcare advocates, embarked on a campaign to incorporate the Iranian “health houses” strategy into the Mississippi system by partnering with Iranian universities and health officials and winning over local residents. While the campaign to incorporate the system may be an uphill battle, its success can have far-reaching implications:

‘The Iranians are a proud people with 5,000 years of history and huge contributions to science and medicine,’ said a State Department official.

‘A project like the Mississippi one is incredibly powerful as it appeals to that Iranian concept of history. It’s a great way to keep the door open between the two countries.’

Paula Gutlove – deputy director of the Institute for Resource and Security Studies – points out similar meetings between American and Soviet scientists in the 1980s helped pave the way for the end of the cold war. “What we did in the 1980s created lasting relationships which cut across the divide,” she said.

‘It’s a win-win project,’ said Dr. Aaron Shirley, a leading health campaigner. ‘Not only do we finally have a way of addressing disparities in Mississippi, but also building relations between peoples.’”

Posted By Bardia Mehrabian

    2 Responses to “The Deep South Thanks the Iranian People”

  1. Pirouz says:

    Bardia, if your American physician ever informs you that you are in need of kidney transplantation, rest assured that (if your Iranian citizenship papers are up to date) you will not have to wait in a huge line for a kidney. In Iran you’ll be provided one from a young donor for a reasonable price.

    Iran’s also a good location for citizens in need of rhinoplasty (nose job) and M-F sex reassignment surgery (SRS).

    But seriously, great post.

  2. Boots says:

    That’s a story you won’t hear about on CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, and especially Fox News. After all if they did put it on Israel would punish us.

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7,350 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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