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Cause of death: where there is no physician

The implementation of verbal autopsy

In this section, we introduce a new approach to the implementation of VA on a routine basis and in the context of a national CRVS system, with VA administered alongside the notification of a death to the registration office. The procedure is automated, with data capture on handheld devices and the use of computer algorithms for determining and coding the probable COD. 

The implementation of VA therefore consists of the following components:

  • A VA interview that is ideally performed within three months after death, but can extend to a year after death that consists of a series of structured questions on the key demographic characteristics of the deceased, as well as the signs and symptoms that he or she experienced (and their duration) in the period before death
  • A validated, automated algorithm for diagnosing and coding the most probable underlying causes of deaths
  • A target cause list mapped to International Classification of Diseases ICD-10 statistical categories
  • A means of compiling summary and disaggregated CSMFs at the population level
  • Efficient business processes, including roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders, that are fully integrated into the operational architecture (including information technology) of the health and CRVS system.

Learn more

CRVS governance and architecture

CRVS process mapping

Lopez AD (2011). Verbal autopsy: innovations, applications, opportunities. Population Health Metrics.

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