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CRVS assessments: Know your system

Comprehensive assessment tool

As part of efforts to strengthen national health information, the University of Queensland, in collaboration with the WHO, developed a package of materials to provide guidance for a standards-based review of country practices in CRVS. The materials, collectively referred to as the comprehensive assessment tool, include:

  • An introduction to CRVS systems
  • A roadmap outlining the process for reviewing current systems
  • An assessment framework.

Roadmap outlining the process for reviewing current systems

The roadmap outlines three main phases (see diagram below):

  1. Assessment. This includes process mapping, and use of the rapid and comprehensive assessment tools to get a full understanding of your system.
  2. Problem identification and prioritisation, and development of a plan. A strategic improvement plan should include the steps and activities needed to address each of the priority actions, depending on the type of system.
  3. Implementation. Define roles and responsibilities within agreed-upon implementing mechanisms and processes, and mobilise the resources required for action.

The tool's approach

The tool promotes international standards and practices, but does not prescribe what measures and practices countries should adopt to achieve fully functioning CRVS systems. Such measures and practices are best determined locally, because much depends on the local context, capacity, resources and traditions. 

The approach described is largely directed to those countries where civil registration is established but is inadequate in terms of its coverage, quality or both. Countries where civil registration is not established may still find the approach useful, even though parts of the assessment framework will not be relevant. If the extent of completeness or coverage of vital statistics data is known, then even incomplete information can yield valuable insights into mortality patterns and the main cause of death. 

Although the UN considers vital events to comprise live births, deaths, fetal deaths, marriages and divorces, the tool is concerned only with births, deaths and causes of death (that is, it does not cover fetal deaths, marriages or divorces).

The assessment tool analyses five key components (A–E, see below) of CRVS systems. It comprehensively covers inputs, processes and outputs from these components, as shown in the table below.

Comprehensive assessment framework


 Areas covered

 A: Inputs

 Legislative and regulatory frameworks supporting the existence and operation of CRVS systems, as well as the financial, human and   technological resources required for their proper functioning

 B–D: Processes 

 Processes required for obtaining and compiling information such as registration and certification practices. Forms, classifications and   coding practices used in obtaining and compiling information. Procedures for the management and transmission of data:

  • B1: Organisation and functioning of the CRVS system
  • B2: Review of forms used for birth and death registration
  • B3: Coverage and ‘completeness of registration’
  • B4: Data storage and transmission
  • C1: ICD-compliant practices for death certification
  • C2: Hospital death certification
  • C3: Deaths occurring outside hospital
  • C4: Practices affecting the quality of cause-of-death data
  • D1: Mortality coding practices
  • D2: Mortality coder qualification and training
  • D3: Quality of mortality coding

 E: Outputs

 Type and quality of statistics produced, and methods for disseminating, accessing and using those statistics

  • E1: Data quality and plausibility checks
  • E2: Data tabulation
  • E3: Data access and dissemination

Read more

This document provides comprehensive guidance on how to systematically evaluate the quality and functioning of CRVS systems: Improving the quality and use of birth, death and cause-of-death information: Guidance for a standards-based review of country practices (2010).

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