Dr Tan Ziwen, University of Melbourne fellow, Shanghai

Fellowship profile – from Shanghai to Melbourne

View profile in Chinese

In order to build capacity to strengthen civil registry vital statistics (CRVS) systems in countries involved in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative (BD4H), six to eight fellows from the project's countries are trained a year on CRVS systems and work on a project with direct application to BD4H activities in their country.

谭紫雯 Dr Tan Ziwen, China

What is your research focus?

I have a Bachelor Degree in Preventative Medicine and Masters Degree in Epidemiology and Health Statistics from Fudan University. The main focus of my research during graduate study was statistical methods in medical research.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Xinning County of Hunan Province, a small town located in the southwest of China. I completed my primary to high school study in my hometown and started the college study at Fudan University in Shanghai since 2007. After graduating in 2015, I have been working for the Department of Vital Statistic in Shanghai Municipal Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (SCDC).

What are you studying/doing as part of BD4H?

As one of the core team members of Shanghai CRVS program, I have been involved in almost all aspects of the project, including the baseline assessment, Medical Record (MR) review, Verbal Autopsy (VA), as well as various training programs like MR Gold Standard training, ICD manual coding training, Medical Certification of Cause of Death (MCCOD) training and VA investigator training. In addition, after the fellowship program, I will also undertake the statistical analyses of the project datasets, and coordinate the upcoming ANACONDA and Birth & Death Completeness training in Shanghai.

What interests you most about BD4H?

The BD4H initiative has a lot of attractions, such as the project scale, interventions, different assessment and analysis tools, and the numerous training materials developed. But what impresses me the most is the idea of "Saving lives by counting deaths", which clearly indicates that only by improving the death registration system and completeness of death reporting, and recording the cause of death in very detail that can we fully understand the major causes of death and their time trends in countries or regions, and then take corresponding measures for targeted prevention and avoid more deaths, and ultimately achieve the goal of saving lives.

What lessons have you learned so far?

At the second week of my fellowship in Melbourne, I attended the TAG meeting of BD4H Initiative. In the meeting, almost all TAG members responsible for different countries shared their own project experience and challenges, and I first learned that in many countries the death registration systems are imperfect with serious problems of under-reporting, and in some countries the data collected from their CRVS systems has never even been analysed or used.

This made me more deeply aware that although the CRVS system in Shanghai is much better than the other project countries, there is still a lot to be improved, especially in data utilisation.

I realised with more specialised analytical skills, we could make much better use of the data in CRVS system to provide more targeted recommendations for health policy development.

I have also been able to learn from the findings of the BD4H fellow from the Philippines, who found that the quality of death certificates filled by doctors in their country was greatly improved after the Medical Certification of Cause of Death (MCCOD) training to clinicians. I felt that was proof that we could indeed improve the quality of mortality data in CRVS systems in Shanghai.

What do you hope to do with your new knowledge once you return to your country?

During my fellowship program, the most important thing I've learned was how to apply ANACONDA to analyse and evaluate the quality of mortality data. When I return to Shanghai later in June, the first thing I will do is to report all the data analysis results, identified problems and relevant suggestions to my leaders in SCDC. I would also like to share the analytical skills I have developed and the related ANACONDA theories to more colleagues. This will allow everyone to progress together and help more people realise the importance of accurate and timely mortality data.

What job do you want to do in the future and why?

For now, what I want to do most is to try my best to play the role of a good MR coordinator and help Shanghai’s CRVS program run smoothly. Through the fellowship program, I found that my interests in data analysis and training practice have been further stimulated when I realised that people can identify the existing problems through data analyses, and by communicating the results, they can deliver their findings to others, and spread knowledge.

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