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16 Oct, 2013

PLOS Medicine: The 2003 Iraq War and Avoidable Death Toll

Salman Rawaf

In 2003, the war in Iraq attracted worldwide interest as the systematic failure of coalition and Iraqi politicians to stabilise the country [15],[16] led to atrocities by the military and sectarian insurgents against innocent civilians. During this conflict, mortality surveys were conducted to assess the impact of the invasion and subsequent terrors. However, all have been criticised in one way or another, and almost all were perceived as being politically motivated, deliberately either over-reporting or suppressing the number of deaths [7],[17]–[19].

To many, the war in Iraq has ended, but hostilities and resulting terror continue. As recently as in July 2013, 1,057 people lost their lives, with many more injured, as a result of fresh sectarian conflict [20]. To my knowledge, none of the governments involved in the invasion or occupation have conducted an official inquiry into the health consequences of the conflict, calling into question their interest in the true impact of their actions on the civilians in Iraq. But public health advocates and researchers want to know, and the international community has a right to know. In this context, the retrospective survey by Amy Hagopian et al. is valuable. The authors attempt to overcome methodological difficulties encountered in a previous survey by Burnham and colleagues [7], criticised for its small sample size and cluster methodology, and the 2006/2007 Iraq Family Health Survey, compromised by missing data, as many of the intended sampling sites could not be reached for security reasons [19].

Read the rest: PLOS Medicine: The 2003 Iraq War and Avoidable Death Toll.