This dispatch in the Guardian ( London and Manchester), January 30, 1970, raises fundamental questions about the accuracy of official U.S. and Saigon data on casualties, and reinforces the more critical accounts published here.
The former director of a Canadian Government medical mission to Vietnam yesterday accused the Saigon Government of falsifying for three years the scale of war casualties, malnutrition, and plague in South Vietnam.
Dr. Alje Vennema said in London that plague victims in one provincial hospital at Quang Ngai--where the alleged Pinkville massacre took place--were 10 times greater than the South Vietnam Ministry of Health's official figure for the whole country over the same period.
His records, compiled as mission director at Quang Ngai hospital from 1965-67, are the first substantial challenge to Saigon's figures, on which journalists and the World Health Organisation rely. WHO has already designated it as having in recent years the world's worst prevalence of pneumonic and bubonic plague epidemics.
Dr. Vennema, aged 37, a Dutchman who resigned his post in August, 1968, to do postgraduate research in tropical medicine at Sully hospital, has consolidated his Quang Ngai records into a paper.
He told a press conference: "Between 1965 and 1967 we treated some 2,500 plague cases at Quang Ngai alone, in comparison with the Health Ministry's figure of altogether 250 for the whole country."
In the three years they treated 12,000 civilian war casualties, most suffering from artillery wounds received in a zone under fire from the Americans. Thirty per cent of wounded were women and 40 per cent children under 16. The death rate was 15-20 per cent.