The importance of data quality
Timeliness of data
Another common challenge in many countries with vital statistics data is their timely release. Timeliness of data has several components, including the promptness of:
- Registering the vital event
- Data transferral
- Processing, verifying, generating and disseminating the vital statistics.
Promptness of registration of the vital event is largely dependent on the legally required time frame – does registration need to happen within, for example, 24 hours or 6 months?
Promptness of data transferral is mostly related to the time frames for when the local civil registrars are meant to transmit the records to the central office and to the extent the system is computerised.
The final component of timeliness relates to how quickly the central office can process, verify, generate and disseminate the vital statistics. It is recommended that the basic counts of births and deaths are released with utmost timeliness, and that a later dissemination is planned for those data characteristics that are more complex to clean, check and tabulate.
Lopez et al (2012). Improving the quality and use of birth, death and cause-of-death information: guidance for a standards-based review of country practices, resource kit, World Health Organization, Geneva.