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New Study led by HAI’s Amy Hagopian Estimates 500,000 deaths attributable to Iraq War

Posted: Oct 17, 2013 · Posted by: Julia Robinson, HAI Staff

What was the human cost of the US-led invasion of Iraq?  A groundbreaking new study led by HAI’s own Dr. Amy Hagopian and published this week in PLOS Medicine tried to quantify what can be a difficult question to answer – how many deaths could be attributed – directly or indirectly - to the war in Iraq over the period of the heaviest violence, 2003-2011. 

"War causes a huge amount of chaos, disruption and havoc," Hagopian told the LA Times. "Some deaths are direct, but there are also deaths that result from destroyed infrastructure, increased stress, inability to get medical care, poor water, poor access to food.... These are all reasons why people die."


Photo by: Tim Takaro
Researchers attempting to measure the mortality resulting from the 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation
of Iraq (through 2011) met in Erbil, Iraq, in March 2011. From left to right: Gilbert Burnham, of Johns Hopkins University,
Amy Hagopian of the University of Washington, and Riyadh Lafta of Mustansiriya University in Baghdad
 

Indeed, the study concludes that approximately half a million men, women, and children died during the period studied, and most of these excess deaths – at least 60% - were attributable to the violence of the war, including shootings, car bombs, and other explosions.   The remaining excess deaths were attributable to “secondary causes,” such as cardiovascular conditions or chronic illnesses – which a weakened health infrastructure found in Iraq during the war was ill prepared to deal with.

The survey included almost 2000 household interviews and is the first of its kind to estimate the number of deaths after 2006, one of the most violent periods of the war.  The article is available on the PLOS Medicine website, and the study’s results have been covered by several outlets, including National Geographic, LA Times, NBC News, Agence France Presse, Time Magazine, and many others.

Find out about more of HAI’s Advocacy Program here and work related to War and Public Health here.

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