April 24, 2024

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War and disease could kill 85,000 Gazans within 6 months

War and disease could kill 85,000 Gazans within 6 months

Escalation of the war in Gaza could lead to the death of 85,000 Palestinians from injuries and diseases over the next six months, the worst of the three conditions said by leading epidemiologists. They are designed in an attempt to understand the potential future death toll due to conflict.

These deaths will be in addition to the more than 29,000 deaths in Gaza that local authorities have attributed to the conflict since it began in October. This estimate represents a higher “excess mortality” than would be expected if there had been no war.

In the second scenario, assuming no change in the current level of fighting or humanitarian access, there could be an additional 58,260 deaths in the enclave over the next six months, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the London School of Hygiene. Tropical medicine.

Their analysis found that this number could rise to 66,720 if there was an outbreak of infectious diseases such as cholera.

The analysis found that even in the best of the three scenarios described by the research team – an immediate and sustained ceasefire with no infectious disease outbreaks – another 6,500 Gazans could die over the next six months as a direct result of the war.

The population of the Gaza Strip before the war was 2.2 million people.

“This is not a message or political advocacy,” said Dr. Francesco Cecchi, professor of epidemiology and international health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

He added: “We simply wanted to put it at the front of people's minds and on the desks of decision-makers, so that it could then be said that when these decisions were made, there was some evidence available about how it affected them.” In terms of life.”

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Dr. Shishi and his colleagues estimated the number of expected excess deaths from health data that was available for Gaza before the war began and from that collected during more than four months of fighting.

Their study looks at deaths from traumatic injuries, infectious diseases, maternal and newborn causes, and non-communicable diseases for which people can no longer receive medication or treatment, such as dialysis.

Dr Cheshi said the analysis made it possible to determine the potential impact of the ceasefire on lives. He added: “The decisions that will be taken during the next few days and weeks are of great importance regarding the development of the death toll in Gaza.”

The projected deaths of 6,500 people even with a ceasefire are based on the assumption that there will be no epidemics of infectious diseases. With outbreaks of cholera, measles, polio or meningitis, that number would be 11,580, said Dr. Paul Spiegel, director of the Hopkins Center for Human Health and author of the research, which has not been peer-reviewed.

He added that while it is clear that military escalation would lead to additional casualties, policymakers should be aware of the range of deaths that these scenarios indicate.

“We hope to bring some reality to the matter,” Dr. Spiegel said. “This means 85,000 additional deaths in a community where 1.2 percent of this population has already been killed.”

Patrick Ball, an expert in quantitative analysis of deaths in conflict who was not involved in the research, said it was unusual to see such a careful effort to calculate the potential humanitarian cost of an ongoing war.

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“This paper sheds light on this conflict in a way not seen in any previous conflicts,” said Dr. Paul, who is research director at the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, a non-profit organization. “It highlights the potential costs in human lives and human suffering of different types of future actions that are under human control.”

He added: “People will make decisions that will lead to one of these three scenarios, or to a complex combination of them, and this gives us an idea of ​​the possible outcomes of those decisions.”

The analysis predicts that deaths from traumatic injuries in Gaza over the next six months will be distributed across all ages and genders.

The paper says: “43% of deaths from trauma occur among females, and 42% among children under the age of 19,” which “reflects the intensity and widespread nature of the bombing.”

Even with an immediate ceasefire, war-related deaths will continue, according to the analysis. This toll includes deaths of people who succumbed to previous injuries or were injured by unexploded ordnance, deaths of children and women who cannot be provided with complex care during childbirth, and deaths of children who are malnourished and unable to fight infections such as pneumonia.

“I don't think people realize how long it will take for this to change,” Dr. Spiegel said.