Volume 49 - Article 10 | Pages 219–248  

Use of standard verbal autopsies to improve the mortality data capacity of civil registration and vital statistics systems in low- and middle-income countries: Analysis of key issues

By Nnamdi Maduekwe, Olufunmilayo Banjo, Mike O. Sangodapo, Aisha Abdulazeez


Background: Multidimensional issues confront the use of standard verbal autopsies (SVAs), such as the WHO’s verbal autopsy standards and the Population Health Metrics Research Consortium’s gold standard verbal autopsy, to improve the mortality data performance of civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Objective: This paper attempts an inclusive analysis of these issues and their implications for policies intending to integrate routine SVAs into CRVS systems to enhance mortality data coverage in LMICs.

Methods: Issues were identified from the verbal autopsy and CRVS literature, official documents, and the authors’ field experiences with the Nigerian CRVS system. These were analysed using a problem (key issues) analysis methodology.

Results: Two classes of issues were shown to impinge on the use of SVAs within CRVS systems. One class is generic to SVAs (technical complexity, cost, and standardization issues) and to CRVS systems (contextual, resource, and infrastructural limitations) in LMICs. The other is related to the incompatibility of SVA and CRVS system functions, operations, instruments, and data.

Conclusions: The results indicate a need for alternative solutions to the mortality data challenges of CRVS systems in LMICs that are more pragmatic than SVAs, especially in the short and medium term. Such alternatives must involve less complex data procedures and costs and must be adapted to CRVS system functions, operations, and socioeconomic contexts in LMICs.

Contribution: The paper contributes to the discourse on the use of SVAs to improve the mortality data capacity of CRVS systems in LMICs.

Author's Affiliation

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

Measuring short-term mobility patterns in North America using Facebook advertising data, with an application to adjusting COVID-19 mortality rates
Volume 50 - Article 10    | Keywords: COVID-19, data collection, Facebook, mortality, North America, short-term mobility

Better to ask online when it concerns intimate relationships? Survey mode differences in the assessment of relationship quality
Volume 48 - Article 22    | Keywords: data collection, Generations and Gender Programme (GGP), interviews, intimate relationship, quality of a statistical survey, relationships, research methods, survey data

Blood is thicker than bloodshed: A genealogical approach to reconstruct populations after armed conflicts
Volume 40 - Article 23    | Keywords: data collection, family, genealogies, methodology, mortality, social networks, war

Collecting data from migrants in Ghana: Lessons learned using respondent-driven sampling
Volume 38 - Article 36    | Keywords: data collection, data quality, female migration, Ghana, internal migration, migration, sub-Saharan Africa

Factors explaining the North–South differentials in contraceptive use in Nigeria: A nonlinear decomposition analysis
Volume 38 - Article 12    | Keywords: contraceptive use, cultural factors, equity, family planning, Nigeria, nonlinear decomposition