Injury-related deaths before and during the Islamic State insurgency – Baghdad, Iraq, 2010–2015
Special situations and conditions
Medical emergencies. Critical care. Intensive care. First aid
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AbstractAbstract Background Following a period of low intensity conflict during 2009–2012, the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (or Islamic State) in 2013 was associated with a resurgence of violence in Baghdad, Iraq’s capital and largest city. We evaluated trends in injury-related deaths in Baghdad before and during the Islamic State insurgency. Methods Iraqi National Injury Mortality Surveillance System prospectively collects information on fatal injuries from governorate coroner offices using standardized reporting forms. Trained coroner clerks collect information on victim demographics, intention of injury and mechanism of injury during medical examinations using reports from police and families. We analyzed data on all deaths reported by the Baghdad Forensic Institute from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2015. Results There were 17,555 injury-related deaths with documented intent and mechanism (range 2385–3347 per year): 6241 from gunfire (36%), 1381 explosions (8%), 1348 non-gunfire assaults (8%), 3435 traffic accidents (20%), and 5150 other unintentional injuries (29%). Rates of gunfire (23.45 per 100,000) and explosion (5.90 per 100,000) deaths were significantly higher in 2014 than in all other years during the review period (p < 0.001 and p = 0.03, respectively). During the same period from 2010 to 2015, traffic accident deaths declined significantly from 13.29 to 6.35 (p = 0.002), with declines observed primarily among pedestrians. Trends in the rate of non-gunfire-assault and unintentional deaths, comparing 2010 and 2015, were not significant (p = 0.12 and p = 0.63, respectively). Unintentional deaths were mostly attributed to burns (46%) and electricity-related injuries (31%). The proportion of both females and children was highest in unintentional injury deaths. Conclusions During the study period, deaths from both gunfire and explosions in Baghdad peaked in 2014, corresponding with emergence of the Islamic State. Trends suggest a potential impact of insurgency-related activity on other injuries as evidenced by a decrease in the death rate from traffic accidents. The decreased traffic-related death rate could be from decreased vehicle and pedestrian activity during times of violence. Monitoring trends in injury mortality during conflict allows Iraq to identify priority injury causes to inform public health interventions.