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Welcome to the CRVS Knowledge Gateway Learning Centre

In the pages that follow, we have consolidated available knowledge, tools, guidelines and standards, so that countries will have a convenient resource to draw upon to help accelerate their CRVS improvement strategies. This Learning Centre comprises the most advanced techniques and knowledge by leading global experts in CRVS systems.

The Learning Centre will be continuously updated. This will ensure that the resources presented here provide the essential technical basis for strategic investments in improving CRVS systems.

CRVS: A historical perspective

Accurate and timely data on births and deaths by age, sex and cause, are essential for informing health and social policies designed to promote health across the life course. Without such information, governments are essentially planning and allocating resources in a knowledge vacuum.

As a result, they miss key opportunities to prevent premature mortality and improve health. The generally poor state of national vital statistics, especially on causes of death in populations, is perhaps the most urgent and obvious gap in essential health intelligence needed to inform national health and social development planning. There is growing recognition that not only is this information critically important for policy and planning, it is also becoming increasingly possible to generate through targeted investments in country CRVS systems.

Evolving interventions

Interventions such as cascading training for physicians about how to correctly certify causes of death, using short courses to ‘train trainers’, disseminating mobile phone apps and other resources are all contributing to raising awareness and building capacities among physicians about the critical public health service they provide when correctly certifying a death.

Similarly, the advent of automated coding will greatly facilitate the processing, and standardise the statistical coding of cause-of-death certificates.

New evidence is emerging about the feasibility and utility of introducing automated verbal autopsy methods to routinely diagnose the cause of death for out-of-hospital death with sufficient reliability to be useful for policy. The interventions need to be embedded within actions to improve the functioning of CRVS systems, such as improved legal frameworks and business processes and the introduction of innovative IT solutions to data collection sharing and analysis.


Training tools and materials have also been developed to help build capacities to calculate the completeness of death registration and systematically to appraise cause of death data quality, thus enabling country decision makers to identify and interpret key policy-relevant trends from the vital statistics emanating from CRVS systems. Never before has this focused technical support been available to help countries rapidly improve their CRVS systems.

Holistic effort to improve health information systems

Global development partners such as WHO, the United Nations Regional Commissions (especially ESCAP and ECA), the World Bank, and the Health Data Collaborative, of which Data for Health is part, are giving greater visibility, priority and institutional support to advocate for strengthening CRVS systems. The extraordinary proliferation of tools, guidelines, methods development and direct technical support is enabling countries to rapidly, and comparatively cheaply, re-engineer their CRVS systems, and make them more fit-for-purpose.

The CRVS Knowledge Gateway provides this essential knowledge.

Learning Centre acknowledgements

Carla AbouZahr, University of Melbourne 
Timothy Adair, University of Melbourne
Martin W Bratschi, Vital Strategies
Daniel Cobos, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute
Sonja Firth, University of Melbourne
Ashley Frederes, Vital Strategies
Saman Gamage, University of Melbourne
Ali Hickerson, University of Melbourne
Olga H Joos, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Alan Lopez, University of Melbourne
Dee McLaughlin, University of Melbourne
Lene Mikkelsen, University of Melbourne
Erin K Nichols, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Rasika Rampatige, University of Melbourne
Nicola Richards, University of Melbourne
Ian Riley, The University of Melbourne
Don de Savigny, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute
Philip Setel, Vital Strategies
Renee Sorchik, Demographic and statistical consultant

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