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Deaths of infants and young children in Gaza. A fact-based estimate.

Summary:
To the death toll of the violence in Gaza, around 15.000 additional deaths of infants and children between 1 and 5 have to be added. This is a rough and, in my opinion, a lower-bound estimate. However, the calculations are based on robust information, and sizeable additional mortality in infants and young children in Gaza is real. Next to the direct victims of war, there are indirect victims who die because of lack of proper medical care or because of harsh circumstances. Here, I´ll present an estimate of additional deaths of infants and children between 1 and 5 in Gaza. The estimate is based on the demographics of Gaza and on the article ´Implications of armed conflict for maternal and child health: A regression analysis of data from 181 countries for 2000–2019´ by  Mohammed Jawad

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To the death toll of the violence in Gaza, around 15.000 additional deaths of infants and children between 1 and 5 have to be added. This is a rough and, in my opinion, a lower-bound estimate. However, the calculations are based on robust information, and sizeable additional mortality in infants and young children in Gaza is real.

Next to the direct victims of war, there are indirect victims who die because of lack of proper medical care or because of harsh circumstances. Here, I´ll present an estimate of additional deaths of infants and children between 1 and 5 in Gaza. The estimate is based on the demographics of Gaza and on the article ´Implications of armed conflict for maternal and child health: A regression analysis of data from 181 countries for 2000–2019´ by  Mohammed Jawad , Thomas Hone, Eszter P. Vamos, Valeria Cetorelli and Christopher Millett, September 28, 2021.´

According to the authors above, ´Despite growing recognition of the detrimental effects of conflict on maternal and child health, the literature is bereft of studies robustly quantifying the association between conflict and maternal and child health.´ They fill this gap and show a robust correlation between the intensity of war and increases in infant, maternal and child mortality, as well as a rise in neonatal mortality. To be able to do this. They operationalized the intensity of war as the ´battle-related deaths per 100,000 population. Regarding infant mortality, the article states that, based on their regression model, 

´each battle-related death per 100,000 population was associated with an [mortality, MK] increase of 0.1 per 1,000 live births´.

In Gaza, officially, 36.000 battle-related deaths are counted, or 1,700 per 100.000 population. This means, assuming linearity, that infant mortality might have increased with (1,700 * 0,1 = 170) per 1.000. Based on the roughly 60.000 births per year in the Gaza Strip before the war, it´s probable that during the 8-month duration of the wholesale destruction of the area, around 40.000 children were born. This yields (40 * 170 = 6.800) additional deaths.

In Gaza, there are around 240.000 children between 1 and 5 years of age (at least before the war). Comparable arithmetic assuming 50 additional deaths per 1.000 per year and 8 months of conflict yields that 8.000 young children might have died. Added to around 7.000 additional deaths of infants, this means that an additional amount of 15.000 young children may have to be added to the death toll.

To this, increases in maternal death and neonatal mortality have to be added, as well as higher mortality of the 55+ generation. Also, considering the scale of the destruction and the possibility that the amount of 36.000 deaths undercounts the total amount of direct victims as many people might still be buried below the rubble, a total of around 20.000 additional deaths of infants, young children, mothers isis not inconceivable. The 55+ generation is rather small. But the between 5 and 55 population will also have a higher mortality rate, for instance, because of the (without insulin) deadly disease of diabetes. It is hard to conceive anything less than 30.000 additional deaths.

I can´t imagine that the Israeli and the US army are not making comparable estimates. They know. But the carnage continues.

Merijn T. Knibbe
Economic historian, statistician, outdoor guide (coastal mudflats), father, teacher, blogger. Likes De Kift and El Greco. Favorite epoch 1890-1930.

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