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Tabulation and generation of vital statistics for national policy

Principles for integrating different data sources

The purpose of generating vital statistics is that they will be widely used for health and social planning, and will be combined with other data from different sources to provide further insight and knowledge. It is therefore important that various data sources are integrated to provide a more complete picture of health and wellbeing in a country. Examples of other data collection sources include the national statistical system (for example, the census), the health sector and the education sector. This compatibility among data sources applies not only to the vital events themselves, but also to the characteristics of the persons experiencing them, such as economic activity, usual residence and administrative divisions. In generating tables of rates, it is crucial that the base population used is really the population at risk. For example, figures for births and deaths used for rates should refer to residents and non-residents separately, and any territorial exclusions should be mentioned. 

Given the need for comparators, global standards should where possible be used in the generated statistics. It is also recommended that all definitions and classifications are entered into a data dictionary that can be used by all involved agencies, this will ensure that there is agreement on a standard set of variables and definitions among data collectors and users. For instance, what is printed on the data collection form should correspond to the variables and definitions listed in the data dictionary as well as in the published material. To achieve this level of interagency integration, it is recommended that countries establish a civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) coordination committee.

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CRVS coordination committees

Working together = Better data = Better world

Dr Fatima Marinho, Technical Advisor in Brazil for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative, shares her thoughts on how better data is achieved through working together, to build a better world.

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