Injuries, death, and disability associated with 11 years of conflict in Baghdad, Iraq: A randomized household cluster survey

Riyadh Lafta, Sahar Al-Shatari, Megan Cherewick, Lindsay Galway, Charles Mock, Amy Hagopian, Abraham Flaxman, Tim Takaro, Anna Greer, Adam Kushner, Gilbert Burnham

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26 Scopus citations


Background The objective of this study was to characterize injuries, deaths, and disabilities arising during 11 years of conflict in Baghdad. Methods Using satellite imagery and administrative population estimated size for Baghdad, 30 clusters were selected, proportionate to population size estimates. Interviews were conducted during April and May 2014 in 900 households containing 5148 persons. Details about injuries and disabilities occurring from 2003 through May 2014 and resultant disabilities were recorded. Findings There were 553 injuries reported by Baghdad residents, 225 of which were intentional, and 328 unintentional. For intentional injuries, the fatality rate was 39.1% and the disability rate 56.0%. Gunshots where the major cause of injury through 2006 when blasts/explosions became the most common cause and remained so through 2014. Among unintentional injuries, the fatality rate was 7.3% and the disability rate 77.1%. The major cause of unintentional injuries was falls (131) which have increased dramatically since 2008, followed by traffic related injuries (81), which have steadily increased. The proportion of injuries ending in disabilities remained fairly constant through the survey period. Interpretation Intentional injuries added substantially to the burden of unintentional injuries for the population. For Baghdad, the phases of the Iraqi conflict are reflected in the patterns of injuries and consequent deaths reported. The scale of injuries during conflict is most certainly under-reported. Difficulties recalling injuries in a survey covering 11 years is a limitation, but it is likely that minor injuries were under-reported more than severe injuries. The in- and out-migration of Baghdad populations likely had effects on the events reported which we could not measure or estimate. Damage to the health infrastructure and the flight of health workers may have contributed to mortality and morbidity. Civilian injuries as well as mortality should be measured during conflicts, though not currently done.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0131834
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 7 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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