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Methodology Of Lancet Iraq Study Defended

Methodology Of Lancet Iraq Study Defended


Middle East News Service

[Middle East News Service Comment: The methodology used by researchers from John Hopkins University in regard to the Iraq war’s casualties has unsurprisingly come under attack from the apologists for the war. Those of you who are interested in peer analysis of the methodology may find the following letter from Professor Mike Toole of the Centre for International Health, Macfarlane Burnet Institute for Medical Research and Public Health, Melbourne. The institute is one of Australia’s most respected scientific and medical bodies and it is well known around the world –Sol Salbe]

Letters to the Age 14 October 2006

Sound methodology

A NEW report published in the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet this week has estimated that 654,965 civilian deaths have occurred as a consequence of the war in Iraq. Of post-invasion deaths the majority were due to violence, the most common cause being gunfire.

This new study, carried out by researchers from the Johns Hopkins University in the US, follows a study undertaken in October 2003, that concluded about 100,000 civilians had been killed in Iraq since it was invaded by the US-led coalition in March 2003. Despite media criticism, epidemiologists in the field of conflict and public health supported the methodology and findings. This new study highlights a significant increase in civilian deaths since 2003.

The methodology used is consistent with survey methodology that has long been standard practice in estimating mortality in populations affected by war.

For example, the Burnet Institute and International Rescue Committee (IRC) used the same methods to estimate mortality in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The findings of this study received widespread media attention and were accepted without reservation by the US and British governments. The Macfarlane Burnet Institute for Medical Research and Public Health's Centre for International Health endorses this study.

The lives of Iraqis are currently being shaped by the policies of the occupying forces and the militant insurgents. A new strategy is needed to win peace and prevent further unnecessary human casualties. We hope heads and hearts will respond in an effort to reduce the impact of this occupation on the civilian population.

*************

Professor Mike Toole, Centre for International Health, Macfarlane Burnet Institute for Medical Research and Public Health, Melbourne

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