Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Government of Iraq Mortality Survey Published

Results from the Iraq Family Health Survey (IFHS) have just been published online by the high profile New England Journal of Medicine. The survey was designed as a nationally representative survey of 9345 households and collected information on deaths in the household since June 2001. The paper has been authored by a writing committee composed mainly of members of the Iraqi Government, together with the World Health Organisation.

The results indicate that from January 2002 to June 2006 there were 1325 reported deaths in the households included in the survey. They calculated that this mortality rate translates into an estimate of 151,000 (95% uncertainty range, 104,000 to 223,000) violent deaths from March 2003 to June 2006.

The authors conclude that violence is a leading cause of death for Iraqi adults and was the main cause of death in men between the ages of 15 and 59 years during the first 3 years after the 2003 invasion.

The results are substantially lower than other recent survey-based estimates. Nonetheless, the authors conclude that their data points to a massive death toll which is only one of the health and human consequences of an ongoing humanitarian crisis.

No doubt there will be a robust debate over the next few weeks over the comparative reliability of the different published survey results. One immediate observation regarding this latest survey is that the reported death rates change little over the years 2003 to 2006 - while the security situation over this perid was in fact subject to great variation. Slightly odd. Will continue to post on the expected debate as it happens.