Cause of death: where there is no physician
The previous sections described the processes involved in certifying cause of death (COD) where the death occurs within a health facility or hospital. However, many deaths, especially in low and lower-middle income countries, occur at home or in facilities where there are no physicians to medically certify COD.
In such settings, the only practical option for assessing cause of death patterns is to apply verbal autopsy (VA). This consists of a short, structured, and retrospective interview inquiring about the signs and symptoms experienced by the deceased before death, generally administered to family members of the deceased or others who were present shortly before death. Analysis of the interview responses enables the determination of a probable COD.
In this section you will learn about:
- What VA is and situations in which it can be used
- What VA can and cannot do
- Outputs of VA
- VA tools: questionnaires, diagnostic algorithms
- Automated VA: the WHO2016 and SmartVA tools
- IT systems for automated VA
- Incorporating VA into civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems: criteria, costs and systems prerequisites
- Stages and steps for implementing VA in country
- Sampling strategies for VA in national systems
- Interpreting and using VA outputs.