UNRWA 'Infant Mortality' Report Deeply Flawed

UN organization in Gaza deliberately misrepresented an unreliable scientific study as facts on the ground, blog finds.

Tova Dvorin,

UNRWA HQ in Gaza
UNRWA HQ in Gaza
Flash 90

The latest United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) report on infant mortality in Gaza deliberately misrepresents a scientific study on the subject, the Israellycool blog revealed Sunday - then fed that report to several international news agencies. 

UNRWA sent a press release with the study to major news agencies claiming that infant mortality rates in Gaza are on the rise; several of the agencies published the release immediately. 

However, as Israellycool notes, there are several gaping flaws in the study:

  • Whereas the UNRWA indicates that the study examined facts on the ground in Gaza on the large scale, the scientific paper itself states that it only spoke to a very specific subset: mothers with two living children who reported to UNRWA health centers. 
  • The number of subjects interviewed is so low that the paper itself admits at the end that while a minor increase was seen in infant mortality rate, "the infant mortality rate could in fact be stable or continuing to decline." 
  • Moreover, as the blog staff points out, the subject pool is so low that the p-value - or the probability that the exact same results would appear by random chance - is a whopping 0.61, or 61%. Statisticians reportedly dismiss any study with a p-value below 0.05 (5%) as too weak to be reliable. 
  • The journal in which the study was published is an open-access online journal which apparently accepts all papers offered and then peer-reviews them - a practice which would usually deem such a journal as a source too unreliable to use within any respectable academic context. 

 Arutz Sheva reached out to UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness over the findings, but has so far not received a response.