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Conference addresses the impact of war on health

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 19 October 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:856
  1. Sally Hargreaves
  1. London

    The deadliest effects of war are often impoverishment and disease, rather than bullets and bombs, a conference at the Royal Society of Medicine was told last week.

    “In many war zones, violent deaths are often only a tiny proportion of overall deaths,” Egbert Sondorp, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told delegates. “Populations face a deterioration of their already poor health status, and excess deaths from infectious diseases will usually outnumber deaths due to direct violence.”

    Highlighting a recent survey from eastern Congo, he noted that “of an excess mortality of 2.5 million, only 350 000 were because of direct violence; most died from malnutrition and disease.”

    He called for urgent research to inform a coherent approach to complex emergencies—an approach based on health policy one that targets the main killers. “Such evidence may convince agencies to reorient their …

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