A Novel Method for Verifying War Mortality while Estimating Iraqi Deaths for the Iran-Iraq War through Operation Desert Storm (1980-1993)

Publication Date:

21 Oct 2016


Li SJ, Flaxman A, Lafta R, Galway L, Takaro TK, Burnham G, et al. (2016). A Novel Method for Verifying War Mortality while Estimating Iraqi Deaths for the Iran-Iraq War through Operation Desert Storm (1980-1993). PLoS One. 11(10), e0164709. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0164709



We estimated war-related Iraqi mortality for the period 1980 through 1993.

To test our hypothesis that deaths reported by siblings (even dating back several decades) would correspond with war events, we compared sibling mortality reports with the frequency of independent news reports about violent historic events. We used data from a survey of 4,287 adults in 2000 Iraqi households conducted in 2011. Interviewees reported on the status of their 24,759 siblings. Death rates were applied to population estimates, 1980 to 1993. News report data came from the ProQuest New York Times database.

About half of sibling-reported deaths across the study period were attributed to direct war-related injuries. The Iran-Iraq war led to nearly 200,000 adult deaths, and the 1990–1991 First Gulf War generated another approximately 40,000 deaths. Deaths during peace intervals before and after each war were significantly lower. We found a relationship between total sibling-reported deaths and the tally of war events across the period, p = 0.02.

We report a novel method to verify the reliability of epidemiological (household survey) estimates of direct war-related injury mortality dating back several decades.


Read the Full Article


Stand with HAI

Stand with HAI

Our Mission

Our mission is to promote policies and support programs that strengthen government primary health care and foster social, economic, and health equity for all. Our vision is a just world that promotes health and well-being, including universal access to quality health care.

Our History

Health Alliance International began in 1987 as a US-based international solidarity organization committed to supporting the public sector provision of health care for all.  Over 35 years, HAI conducted programs in 17 countries, with flagship programs in Mozambique, Côte d'Ivoire, and Timor-Leste.

Our Evolution

In line with HAI’s commitment to support and strengthen local public health leadership, as of October 2021, HAI fully transitioned global operations and active programs to locally-based, locally-led NGOs. Learn more about this shift toward local autonomy and equity in global health.

Didn't find what you were looking for?

Didn't find what you were looking for?