Wars Less Deadly, Most War-Related Deaths Result From Disease, Hunger, Report Says

“Wars are less deadly than they once were and national mortality rates have continued to decline even during conflicts due to smaller scale fighting and better healthcare,” according to a study released Wednesday by the Human Security Report Project, Reuters reports. “The report noted that most deaths in wars result from hunger and disease but said improved healthcare in peacetime had cut death tolls even during wartime, as had stepped up aid to people in war zones,” according to the news service.

The report found that since 2000, 90 percent fewer people have died in the average conflict annually compared with the 1950s. “In 2007, the average conflict killed fewer than 1,000 people as a direct result of violence, and there had been a 70 percent decline in the number of high-intensity conflicts since the end of the Cold War 20 years ago, it said,” Reuters writes.

“Researchers found that in 14 out of 18 sub-Saharan African countries that experienced medium to high intensity conflict between 1970 and 2007, the under-5 mortality rate was lower at the end of the conflict than at the beginning,” according to the news service (Worsnip, 1/20). The report also said, “Most deaths in today’s conflicts are caused by war-exacerbated disease and malnutrition, not war-inflicted injuries,” Agence France-Presse reports.

“But the reality is that the death toll in most of today’s wars is too small to reverse the decline in peacetime mortality that developing countries have been experiencing for more than thirty years,” said Andrew Mack, director of the Human Security Report Project, according to the news service. But he noted that exact data about mortality during wartime isn’t easy to find, especially in the developing world.  “It’s incredibly difficult to determine whether people who die from disease and malnutrition wouldn’t have died anyway,” he said.

“The project, based at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, is funded by Britain, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland,” AFP writes (Jones, 1/20).

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

KFF Headquarters: 185 Berry St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94107 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270

www.kff.org | Email Alerts: kff.org/email | facebook.com/KFF | twitter.com/kff

The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.