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New WHO survey: 151,000 Iraqi civilian deaths  
Posted by David Storr January 10 2008, 10:11 » Uploaded 10/01/08 13:02  

From a newly-released major World Health Organisation study into Iraqi civilan deaths by violence:

On the basis of simulations that took into account survey sampling errors and estimated probable uncertainty in the adjustment factors for missing clusters, in the level of underreporting, and in projected population figures, we estimated that there were 151,000 violent deaths in Iraq during this period (95% uncertainty range, 104,000 to 223,000).

This appears to have been a much larger study than the one published in the Lancet journal (in 2006) - 10,860 households surveyed, 10 from each of more than 1,000 clusters across the 18 provinces of Iraq. (published study)[...],,2238250,00.html

COMMENTS Post comment


Comment 01 – David Storr January 10 2007, 13:40

I've not had time to read up fully on this, but the comparison given by the New England Journal of Medicine (in which the new study was published) is:

Lancet study: 1849 households in 47 clusters

WHO/IFHS: 9345 households in 1086 clusters[...]

Comment 02 – ALP January 10 2007, 14:21

Hopefully, with the publication of this study, there will be renewed scientific interest in Iraqi death studies - cool assessments of the relative strengths and weaknesses of the various studies.

I look forward to seeing what the wider scientific community (as opposed to those who regard the Lancet study as Holy Writ) makes of the whole issue.

I think the data and methodology from the WHO survey are going to be a lot more transparent (and available) than with the Lancet and ORB studies. That might force the authors of the latter to provide more detail about theirs - which can only be a good thing.

Comment 03 – Several Famous Epidemiologists January 10 2007, 15:41

The WHO/IFHS survey commenting on the Lancet 2006 study:

"Both sources [IFHS & IBC] indicate that the 2006 study by Burnham et al [Lancet] considerably overestimated the number of violent deaths. To reach the 925 violent deaths per day reported by Burnham et al [Lancet] for June 2005 through June 2006, as many as 87% of violent deaths would have been missed in the IFHS and more than 90% in the Iraq Body Count. This level of underreporting is highly improbable, given the internal and external consistency of the data and the much larger sample size and quality-control measures taken in the implementation of the IFHS."[...]

Comment 04 – Julie January 10 2007, 16:10

Where does that leave the 'Just Foreign Policy' counter, which puts the figure at 1,164,650 based on some mixture of Lancet and Iraq Body Count figures?

Comment 05 – Several Famous Epidemiologists January 10 2007, 17:01

Julie asked: "Where does that leave the 'Just Foreign Policy' counter"?

Answer: In a slightly awkward position.

The JFP people originally showed their ignorance by describing the Lancet '06 study as "the only scientific study of violent Iraqi deaths caused by the U.S.-led invasion of March 2003". Someone must have corrected them about that, as they eventually removed the word "only". There were at least three of these "scientific" studies (using cluster sampling), each giving different results. Now there are at least four.

Comment 06 – Neil-W January 10 2007, 17:30

One of the authors of the WHO study was shot and killed on his way to the work. People talk a lot about how dangerous these surveys are, but that really brings it home.[...]

Comment 07 – Raoul Djukanovic January 10 2007, 19:32

Where does that leave the 'Just Foreign Policy' counter?

On the websites of people who don't want to aid and abet the IBC aiders and abetters of war criminals (as defined by those whose special friends aid and abet Balkan war criminals, among others).

Comment 08 – Russ Bridger January 11 2007, 18:07

it's a sad, pathetic site watching Medialens flounder as they see their "Bible" trumped by something bigger and more credible. They must feel like fundie Christians who've been shown scientific proof that Mary was de-virginated long before Les Jesus was born.

Comment 09 – Peter January 11 2007, 20:13

I feel sorry for bloggers such as Lambert and Soldz, missionaries of cyberspace with a ... mission to defend the Lancet study from all critics. Can all their work have been in vain? Has the Devil won the final victory, making their efforts irrelevant? Will anyone learn anything or apologise for the attacks on people with "incorrect" views (now revealed by the IFHS survey to be not so incorrect after all)?

Comment 10 – Rixey January 11 2007, 20:44

You just don't get it Russ, do you. It's people like you who give the pro-war "left" the amnunition they need to destroy whatever good the peopleyou ridicule accomplish

Comment 11 – ALP January 13 2007, 09:20

Meanwhile, the rhetoric of smear is starting to heat up over the WHO study estimate of 151,000 violent Iraqi deaths. It was predictable there would be an "outraged" reaction to this from those with an emotional investment in the Lancet study.

The reactions are quite interesting - a mixture of those seeking to attack the study and those seeking to show that despite appearances it's in "agreement" with the Lancet studies.

The latter overlooks the fact that the Lancet 2006 study estimated 600,000 violent deaths (as well as giving a figure for total excess mortality). It's the comparison of this figure with 151,000 estimated violent deaths (from WHO/IFHS) which demonstrates that there could hardly be a bigger disagreement between the studies.



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