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What can be done to rapidly improve CRVS systems?

Demonstrating the value of vital statistics for policy, planning, monitoring and evaluation

An important way of increasing demand for CRVS systems is to demonstrate the value of the statistics they generate for policy and planning across multiple sectors.

The civil registration system, when universal, is the preferred source of vital statistics in terms of accuracy, completeness and timeliness. However, it is not essential to achieve complete registration before starting to bring together, examine and evaluate the statistics generated.

Vital statistics that are incomplete or of imperfect quality can still be useful as long as the deficiencies are made clear to users. The tabulation and analysis of vital statistics from the registration system can help stimulate interest, build statistical capacities, enhance CRVS literacy, and develop confidence in the interpretation of vital statistics.

Feedback of statistical information to those involved in data collection and field level can help improve quality and fuel a virtuous cycle, from data collection and compilation, to analysis and interpretation, and enhanced data use for policy and planning. Through this cycle data are transformed into information and thence to the creation of knowledge, to decision-making and to greater capacities for data collection, interpretation and use (see diagram below).

A virtuous cycle from data collection to analysis, interpretation and use
Governments may need to adopt a phased approach to using civil registration records as a source of vital statistics by ensuring that information on currently registered vital events is compiled in a way that allows for the production of vital statistics.
Example activities include:
  • Producing advocacy and information materials on the value of statistics from civil registration for monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)1
  • Promoting the use of vital statistics to support decisions in areas of social, economic and health policy
  • Promoting the benefits of vital statistics and sponsoring vital statistics as a theme for national statistics day
  • Working with the media at local and national levels to highlight the value of vital statistics for decision-making
  • Including the role and importance of CRVS systems in national health information system development strategies
  • Providing ongoing training for statisticians in the production, dissemination, analysis and interpretation of vital statistics
  • Introducing quality assurance frameworks for the production of vital statistics derived from civil registration
  • Integrating CRVS improvements into the national strategy for the development of statistics, if one exists
  • Using IT for the speedy compilation, analysis and publication of vital statistics derived from civil registration
  • Introducing operational data release procedures including a data release calendar
  • Taking measures to make vital statistics readily accessible to users, including through issuing summaries and policy briefs, and publishing vital statistics on the internet.

1Mills SL et al (2017). Civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) for monitoring the Sustainable development goals (SDGS). Washington, D.C.: World Bank Group. 

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