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Checking the accuracy of vital events records

Checking the accuracy of vital events records

Information collected through the civil registration system is raw material that needs to be compiled, managed and analysed to produce the vital statistics that can be shared with, and communicated to, different technical and non-technical audiences. The quality and reliability of the information gathered must be evaluated if it is to become useful and usable evidence for action. 

Raw data, before being compiled for presentation, communication and sharing, need to be checked for errors. These errors typically include, for example, a missing or an impossible age at death, an undeclared sex of decedent and a missing place of usual residence. At this stage of the cycle, the focus is on microdata, and verifying the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in each record.

It is therefore important that staff at this level have been trained and know how to competently check and verify the data and the supporting information. For this to be consistent, standard operating procedures for civil registration staff must be well thought out and rigorously implemented. Once the information has been compiled and aggregated, it is difficult and often not possible to correct the raw data. 

The cyclical process of compiling and transforming raw data into knowledge that can be used to support health and development decision-making is shown in the figure below. This figure, originally developed by the Health Metrics Network, displays all the key steps that must be undertaken to ensure maximum utility of the vital statistics. This figure also illustrates the different levels where capacity building must take place so that staff have the capacities and skills needed to perform their tasks. 

The cycle of data collection, management, analysis, dissemination and use

Read more

Health Metrics Network and World Health Organization (2008). Framework and standards for country health information systems, 2nd ed., World Health Organization, Geneva.

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