The mortality in Gaza in July-September 2014: a retrospective chart-review study
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionConflict and Health 2016
BACKGROUND: The majority of Gazans who were killed or injured in the 2014 Israel-Gaza war were civilians, and one-fourth of the population were internally displaced. As the Gaza Strip is a small territory, the whole population was exposed to the war and its effects on the health care system, supplies and infrastructure. Our aim was to assess the overall, sex and age-group mortality in Gaza for the period July-September 2014 that was not caused by war injuries, and the proportion of non-trauma deaths among adults that occurred outside hospital wards. A comparison was made with the mortality for the same period in 2013. METHOD: Date, sex, age, cause and place of each death that was not attributed to war-related physical trauma were collected from death notification forms or death records in Gaza hospitals for the period 01 July to 30 September 2014. The same information was extracted from the local death register for all deaths in the same period in 2013. RESULTS: The mean age at death was 52.4 years in 2014 and 49.7 in 2013, and about 50 % were older than 60 years in both years. The crude non-trauma death rates among adults were 11.6 per 10,000 population in 2014 and 11.3 in 2013, and the age standardised 13.2 and 12.4, respectively. Higher death rates in 2014 were observed among elderly and women. Cardiovascular disease was the most common cause of death among adults of both sexes, and infectious diseases caused less than 10 % in both periods. Three maternal deaths were observed in 2013 and six in 2014 (p = 0.17). The proportion of deaths that occurred in a hospital ward was 71.5 % in 2013 and 51.2 % in 2014. CONCLUSIONS: The mortality from communicable diseases was low in Gaza. We did not detect a higher overall background mortality in the 2014 period compared to 2013, but the observed age and sex distribution differed. The proportion of non-trauma deaths among adults that occurred in a hospital ward was markedly lower during the war. The living conditions and health care situation in Gaza point to the need for close monitoring of mortality.