Gaza health crisis could kill 8,000 more by August even if fighting stops – report

By Thomson Reuters Feb 20, 2024 | 6:55 AM

By Jennifer Rigby

LONDON (Reuters) – Even if the fighting in Gaza stopped now, about 8,000 more people could still die there over the next six months due to the public health crisis caused by the Israel-Hamas war, according to a report by independent researchers in the U.S. and Britain.

Hospitals in Gaza have been devastated by the fighting and more than 85% of its 2.3 million inhabitants have been left homeless, with rising cases of diseases like diarrhoea as well as malnutrition in overcrowded shelters.

The figures come from a report by academics at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health in the United States, and are part of wider projections of the excess deaths the conflict may cause in Gaza over the next six months. The report, published on Monday, says it does not include Israel because its public health system is intact.

If the fighting continues or escalates, traumatic injuries will make up the majority of excess deaths in Gaza, the researchers project. But deaths from malnutrition, infectious diseases like cholera and a lack of access to care for conditions like diabetes will also kill thousands.

In a worst-case scenario, where the fighting escalates and there are significant disease outbreaks, roughly 85,570 people may die by early August, with 68,650 deaths related to traumatic injuries, the report says.

Even with a ceasefire, about 11,580 people could still die in the same period if a disease outbreak compounds the challenges of rebuilding the sanitation and health system in Gaza. Roughly 3,250 of these deaths would be due to long-term complications from trauma injuries, and 8,330 from other causes, the report estimates.

More than 29,000 people have been killed in the fighting since Oct.7, official figures from Gaza’s health ministry show.

The excess death estimates include both civilians and combatants, and the researchers caution that the unpredictable nature of both war and disease outbreaks mean they have a wide range of estimates. Counting the dead in Gaza has been challenging, and the aim is to give more clarity, the British government-funded report says.

(Reporting by Jennifer Rigby, Editing by William Maclean)