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Epidemic of war deaths.

Epidemic of war deaths

Although medical research often addresses the causes of homicide, suicide and other "private" human-caused deaths, it rarely addresses the more "public" deaths of war. But the scale of such deaths in the 20th century is comparable to the scale of deaths in prior centuries due to epidemic diseases, observes Richard Rhodes of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Aug. 5 JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION.

Since 1700, wars have claimed more than 100 million lives worldwide, and more than 90 percent of these deaths occurred in the 20th century, Rhodes says. The ratio of civilians to combatants in the death toll has also increased steadily: Historically, about 50 percent of war-related deaths were civilian--but by the 1970s, civilians accounted for 73 percent of war deaths, and in the 1980s so far, the figure has risen to 85 percent, he says. Rhodes defines war as an armed conflict including one or more governments and causing the death of 1,000 or more people per year.

Health professionals should monitor and report this neglected mortality as "a first step toward a remedy to man-made death, the most terrible scourge of the 20th century," he concludes.
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Title Annotation:statistics on war-related deaths through history
Publication:Science News
Date:Aug 20, 1988
Words:199
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