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Why do CRVS systems underperform?

Implications for the generation and use of vital statistics

The interactions between the demand, supply and policy/institutional challenges in civil registration can have cumulative negative effects on the availability and quality of birth and death statistics. 

  • When births and deaths are not registered, vital statistics will inevitably be incomplete and biased. Marginalised and hard-to-reach groups, people living in remote areas, and ethnic minorities may be systematically excluded.  
  • When key information items needed for administrative or statistical purposes are missing or incorrect, the resulting vital statistics will be inaccurate and misleading.  
  • For example, statistical information on deaths should include as a minimum the identity of the individual, age, sex, place of death, cause of death. 
  • Statistical information on births should include date and place of occurrence of birth, sex, birth order, birth weight, site and mode of delivery, gestational age, and other variables of interest for health statistics.  
  • When data quality assurance systems are not in place to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the information in the registration record, the quality of vital statistics will be comprised.
  • Late and delayed registration of vital events results in out of date vital statistics.
  • When information on the cause of death is not available, it will not be possible to compile reliable statistics to guide health decision-making.
  • Lack of attention to the development of human resources results in inadequate data management skills and statistical capacities, thus hindering essential activities such as, for example, coding of cause of death, assessment of completeness of vital statistics, sound analysis of trends and differentials, and data presentation and interpretation.

Vital statistics that are incomplete, inaccurate, not representative of the whole population and out of date so are not fit for purposes and therefore of little value for policy making.

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About what can be done to rapidly improve CRVS systems through ways of overcoming demand, supply and policy/institutional challenges

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