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Weapons and Health

‘Weapons are bad for people’s health. That statement is both frivolous and obvious. Yet health professionals have been slow to recognise that the effects of weapons are, by design, a health issue, and moreover constitute a global epidemic mostly affecting civilians.’ (1)

In the quarter century since Robin Coupland wrote that piece in the Lancet, there has been no slowdown in the epidemic of violence mainly affecting civilians in conflict zones. The 1990’s saw a focus on landmines and the detritus of unexploded ordnance in the aftermath of active conflict. The first two decades of the new century have seen the direct use of chemical weapons against civilian targets (2) and the emerging threats of biological weapons (3).

Our work focuses on quantification of the effects of weapons on the health of populations and individuals. Included in this are the wider environmental and economic consequences of weaponry, both conventional and chemical / biological. Quantification of effects helps inform decision making around humanitarian relief efforts, international legal conventions on weapon design or deployment and allows rational decision making in allocation of resource.

Partners in our work have decades of experience in weapons clearance, explosive incident mapping using machine learning tools and chemical/biological weapons as well as the traditional health related fields of medicine and surgery.


  • The effect of weapons on health Coupland RM Lancet: 1996, 347 450-451
  • Chemical Weapons and public health: assessing impact and responses Abdulkarim Ekzayez, M. Daniel Flecknoe, Louis Lillywhite, Preeti Patel, Andreas Papamichail, Hassan Elbahtimy. Journal of Public Health | Vol. 42, No. 3, pp. e334–e342
  • Preparedness for the deliberate use of biological agents A rational approach to the unthinkable Preparedness for the deliberate use of biological agents A rational approach to the unthinkable WHO 2002
Project status: Ongoing