Researchers from four universities, including University of Washington, conducted the first population-based survey since 2006 to estimate war-related deaths in Iraq and the first to cover the full-time span of the conflict.
All told, the researchers estimate nearly a half million people died from causes that could be attributed to the war. Their results were published Oct. 15 in the open access journal PLOS Medicine.
Researchers state with 95 percent certainty that there were approximately 461,000 excess deaths during the Iraq war, but the actual number could be as low as 48,000 or as high as 751,000. (For comparison, three years after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the death toll has been estimated anywhere between 46,000 and 316,000).
Researchers with UW’s Department of Global Health, UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Johns Hopkins University, Simon Fraser University and Mustansiriya University were part of the study team. Amy Hagopian, associate professor of Global Health at the University of Washington, was the lead author of this study.
“Policymakers, governments and the public need better data on the health effects of armed conflict,” she said. “Without this information, it’s impossible to assess the true human costs of war.”
The researchers found that for every three people killed by violence during the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq from 2003 to 2011, two died as a result of the collapse of the infrastructure that supports health care, clean water, nutrition and transportation.
According to Hagopian: "The news coverage has been roughly right, and followed the direction we set in our press release. The 'indirect deaths' emphasis has resonated as an important issue."
She said, some papers are certainly better than others, and a few important media outlets haven't carried it yet. Here's a sampling:
Day 4 and 5 Coverage
- Humanosphere, "The great* Iraq death toll debate: Putting war on the global health agenda"
- Russian TV, "Deadly Recount: Half million Iraqis died since US-led invasion"
- John Tirman (Executive Director, MIT Center for International Studies), Blog for Huffington Post, War's Violence and Why It Matters
- News1130 (San Francisco), SFU researchers help determine Iraq war death toll
Day 2 and 3 Coverage
- Steven Scher, KUOW, 94.9 Seattle, "UW Study Sheds New Light on Iraq War Death Toll."
- Andrew Hiller, Voice of Russia, London Bureau, "Death Toll From Iraq War 500,000."
- Russia Today TV, "2003-2011: Half million Iraqis died in war, occupation."
- BBC, "Iraq study estimates war-related deaths at 461,000."
- Atlantic Magazine, "The Iraq War and Its Side Effects Killed Half a Million Iraqis."
- Washington Post, "This chart shows that the Iraq war was worse than we think."
Day 1 Coverage
- Dan Vergano, National Geographic, "Half-Million Iraqis Died in the War, New Study Says."
- Monte Morin, LA Times, "Study estimates nearly 500,000 Iraqis died in war."
- Bill Briggs, NBCUniversal, "Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died of illness as war ravaged nation's support systems, study says."
- Gabe Spitzer, KPLU (NPR affiliate in Tacoma),"Seattle Researchers: Death Toll for Iraq War Likely Near Half Million."
- Agence France Presse, "Bomb kills 12 as war-related deaths near 500,000 in Iraq."
- Joe Brownstein, freelancer for Al Jazeera, "Iraq war claimed half a million lives, study finds."
- Time Magazine: "New Study Estimates Nearly 500,000 Died in Iraq War."
- Cambodia Herald: "War-related deaths near 500,000 in Iraq: study."
- Las Vegas Guardian: "Iraq War Deaths May Total One Half Million, Study Says."
- Pacific Standard: "A Better Stab at Estimating How Many Died in the Iraq War. A new study rising from the ashes of a flawed old one estimates a half million Iraqis died as a result of the U.S.-led invasion and occupation."
- Medical Daily:"Iraq War Deaths Now Estimated At 461,000: For Every 3 Killed By Violence, 2 Died From Iraq’s Failing Infrastructure."
- Express & Star:"461,000 Iraqis die 'because of war'."
- International Business Times: "New Iraq War Death Toll Estimate: 461,000 Dead From Violence And Infrastructure Collapse Since Conflict Began, Researchers Say."
Note: A study authored by global health Assistant Professor Amy Hagopian in February 2010 showing the doubling of childhood leukemia rates in southern Iraq province of Basrah is published in the American Journal of Public Health and receives wide press coverage.