April 7, 2006
(technically, excess mortality) is the difference between the actual
mortality in a country and the mortality expected for a peaceful,
decently-run country with the same demographics (i.e. with the same
birth rate and the same population age profile). Avoidable mortality is
a fundamental parameter to be considered in any sensible discussion of
human affairs – it is the bottom-line issue when assessing the success
or otherwise of societal, regional and global policies.
has been recognized by no less than US Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright who infamously commented "we think the price is worth it" when
asked by Lesley Stahl about the estimated 0.5 million Iraqi infant
deaths due to Sanctions ("60 Minutes", 12 May 1996).
Stahl (on Sanctions against Iraq): "We have heard that a half million
children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in
Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?"
Madeleine Albright: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it".
the notoriety of this comment, Mainstream Media have been very coy
about reporting about avoidable deaths due to the Sanctions war against
Iraq, the Afghan War or the Iraq War. Indeed their acute coyness now
constitutes egregious lying by omission and, given the dimensions of
the problem, must be described as holocaust denial.
Decent people must attempt to find out and then inform others about man-made mass mortality (see: here and here ).
mass mortality simply ensures its continuance and denying past
atrocities simply ensures their repetition – history ignored yields
history repeated. Thus the actuality of the Jewish Holocaust (6 million
deaths) was not formally acknowledged by the Allies until 30 months
before the end of World War 2 in Europe. This tardiness in reportage
must surely have contributed significantly to this atrocity.
TODAY Mainstream Media are comprehensively ignoring the horrendous
magnitude of the avoidable post-invasion deaths in Occupied Iraq and
Afghanistan (presently totalling 2.3 million deaths) and the avoidable
deaths in the First World-dominated non-European World (presently 14.8
million deaths each year).
Several years ago, as a humanist
scientist interested in the fundamental problem of human mortality, I
set out to determine "avoidable mortality" for every country in the
world since 1950, using publicly-accessible data from the UN Population
Division (see: here ).
population, death rate, birth rate, under-5 infant mortality rate and
other demographic statistics from the UN go back to 1950, a time when
all the world potentially had access to the life-preserving basics such
as universal literacy, a tolerable per capita income, antibiotics,
anti-malarials, mosquito netting, soap, antiseptics, clean water,
sanitation, some basic immunizations, basic health care and
My approach was to graphically estimate
base-line values of "expected mortality rates" for all countries of the
world (a very complicated process). Having this information it was
possible to determine "avoidable mortality rates" and thence "avoidable
mortality" for every country in the world since 1950. The post-1950
avoidable mortality totalled 1.30 billion for the world, 1.25 billion
for the non-European world and about 0.6 billion for the Muslim
These numbers were so horrendous that they demanded
some sort of independent corroboration. I achieved this by
independently calculating the "under-5 infant mortality" for every
country in the world since 1950. This process, based on UN infant
mortality data, involved no complicated "base-line" estimates – the
calculations simply involved straightforward arithmetic.
post-1950 "under-5 infant mortality" has totalled 0.88 billion for the
world, 0.85 billion for the non-European world and about 0.4 billion
for the Muslim world. Further, comparisons with First World countries
(which all have very low infant mortality rates) revealed that for
Third World countries about 90% of "under-5 infant mortality" has been
"avoidable" (see: here ).
very important number derived from this analysis is that for the
non-European world "post-1950 under-5 infant mortality" has been
numerically about 0.7 of the "post-1950 avoidable mortality". This has
the important operational consequence that if you know the "under-5
infant mortality" for a high mortality country, simply dividing by 0.7
will give you a rough idea of the "avoidable mortality" (remembering
that the "highly technical" estimation of "avoidable mortality"
described above is arduous and involves some complicated assumptions).
the last few years I have been performing thousands of calculations
relating to avoidable mortality and writing a huge book on the subject.
However I have also taken a lot of time trying to tell the world about
this appalling continuing catastrophe – following the example of
Continental Europeans who tried to tell an unresponsive world about the
expanding Jewish Holocaust about 60-65 years ago.
particular, over the last 2 years I have reported the steadily
increasing post-invasion avoidable mortality and under-5 infant
mortality in Occupied Iraq and Afghanistan that now total 2.3 million
and 1.8 million, respectively. Alternative media (notably MWC News)
have been ethical, responsive and eager to report this shocking
intelligence to their liberal readerships. However Mainstream Media,
while endlessly apprised, resolutely refuse to report this important
This extraordinary lying by omission by
Mainstream Media makes them accessories to egregious war crimes in the
Occupied Iraqi and Afghan Territories – the Geneva Conventions make it
quite clear that the occupiers are obliged to do everything in their
power to preserve the health and lives of their conquered subjects
some of the fault must also lie with the Messenger, no matter his best
intentions – he has failed to convince Mainstream Media, no matter that
he has convinced many decent, humanitarian people around the world.
Part of that failure lies in perceptions of the nature of "avoidable
mortality" and "scholarly authority". What is needed is a
didactically-successful method of assessing war-related "avoidable
deaths" that should be (a) simple, (b) publicly accessible, (c)
non-controversial (i.e. clearly and simply deriving from an
authoritative source) and (d) free of hard-to-understand assumptions or
difficult to explain mathematical operations.
LAYPERSON-FRIENDLY WAY - the simplest, most immediately understandable,
most publicly-accessible, publicly-confirmable and self-empowering way
- is to be preferred and advanced to get this urgent humanitarian
message across to an unresponsive world because EVERY DAY 1,300 under-5
year old infants die in Occupied Iraq & Afghanistan (1,200
avoidably) and 29,000 under-5 year old infants die in the
non-European World (26,000 avoidably). This way IS available through
the detailed, readily-accessed and regularly-updated reports of the
United Nations Childrens’ Fund (UNICEF) as outlined below.
Under-5 infant mortality figures are presented in updated UNICEF reports for essentially every country in the world ( the latest 2006 reports
) - it is only a click away and for Iraq and Afghanistan tells us the
following: in 2004 the under-5 infant mortality was 122,000
in Occupied Iraq, 359,000 in Occupied Afghanistan and 1,000 in the
occupying country Australia (noting that in 2004 the populations of
these countries were 28.1 million, 28.6 million and 19.9 million,
From this data, assuming that the figures have
been roughly the same each year after invasion (they have actually got
worse) we can readily estimate that the post-invasion under-5 infant
mortality in Occupied Iraq over 3 YEARS has been 122,000 x 3 = 366,000
and that in Occupied Afghanistan over 4 YEARS has been 359,000 x 4 =
1,436,000 i.e. a total of 1,802,000 [as compared to my "highly
technical" calculation of 1.8 million].
Assuming for "bad
outcome" Third World countries that "under-5 infant mortality" is
numerically about 0.7 of the "avoidable mortality", we can estimate
that the post-invasion avoidable mortality in Occupied Iraq and
Afghanistan = 1,802,000/0.7 = 2.6 million [as compared to my "highly
technical" calculation of 2.3 million]. Similarly, the post-invasion
"avoidable mortality" can be estimated roughly to be 366,000/0.7 = 0.5
million (for Occupied Iraq) and 1,436,000/0.7 = 2.1 million for
Occupied Afghanistan) [as compared to my "highly technical" estimates
of 0.5 million and 1.8 million, respectively) (see MWC News )
you can see, the "easy, layperson-friendly way" yields essentially the
same results for post-invasion avoidable mortality in Occupied Iraq and
Afghanistan as my "careful, highly technical, precise method" based on UN Population Division data.
must be noted that this "easy, layperson-friendly" approximate approach
is only valid for "bad outcome non-European countries" - but then these
are the countries we are interested in from an urgent, humanitarian
perspective ("avoidable mortality" as conservatively measured by me is
zero or essentially zero in other countries - even the unusually
elevated "avoidable mortality" in Hungary - which is among the
countries in the world with the lowest infant mortality - "only"
accounts for 35,000 Hungarians each year) (see MWC News ).
1945 Germans presented with evidence of the Jewish Holocaust claimed
that "We didn’t know" - lying by omission by Mainstream Media is giving
Coalition citizens, and indeed everyone in the world, the same excuse
in relation to horrendous post-invasion avoidable mortality in Occupied
Iraq and Afghanistan. It is up to decent people to INFORM EVERYONE that
(a) "under-5 infant mortality" in "bad outcome" Third World countries
is numerically about 0.7 of the "avoidable mortality" and (b) that
under-5 infant mortality data for Occupied Iraq and Afghanistan and
other Third World countries is regularly up-dated and reported by UNICEF – the awful truth is only a click away.
is the only way but silence kills and silence is complicity – it IS
possible to get through the Wall of Silence.
Dr Gideon Polya,
a contributing editor to MWC News Magazine, published some 130 works in
a 4 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological
reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC
Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London, 2003), and is
currently writing a book on global mortality ---
Contact Dr.Polya By E-mail