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What is CRVS and why does every country need it?


CRVS systems in different countries apply common standards and definitions as defined by the United Nations. They therefore generate data that are comparable – both over time and from place to place. 

For example, good CRVS systems use the internationally agreed definitions of live births, fetal death, infant, child and maternal deaths, and causes of death described in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. The use of standard definitions permits comparison not only over time but also across countries.

These cross-country analyses permit the identification of significant health interventions designed to reduce maternal mortality as shown in the comparisons between England and Wales, Sweden and the United States of America, from 1890 to 1980 (see diagram below). The comparatively low levels of maternal mortality in Sweden between 1890 and the 1930s have been attributed to the general use of midwife-led delivery and good collaboration between obstetricians and midwives. In England and Wales and the USA, hospital delivery was associated with high risk of puerperal fever. Maternal mortality fell in all three countries with the advent of improved obstetric techniques and asepsis and, from the 1950s, the availability of penicillin, safe caesarean section and blood transfusion. These analyses influenced the development of international standards and guidelines for the management of pregnancy and childbirth in developing countries.


Read more

Högberg U (2004). The decline in maternal mortality in Sweden: the role of community midwifery. American Journal of Public Health.

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Statistics Division (2014). Principles and recommendations for a vital statistics system, revision 3, United Nations, New York.

World Health Organization (2016). International statistical classification of diseases and related health problems, 10th revision, vol. 2, 5th edition. Geneva, World Health Organization.

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