Methods and tools to evaluate the quality of vital statistics
Tools specifically to assess mortality data quality - ANACONDA
To analyse the quality of mortality and COD data, the University of Melbourne, with financial assistance from the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative, developed a powerful electronic assessment tool named ANACONDA (Analysis of Causes of National Deaths for Action). The IT platform was conceived by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute at the University of Basel. ANACONDA is currently available in English, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese and Russian.
ANACONDA carries out a comprehensive review of your dataset, and diagnoses possible problems. It automatically calculates standard mortality indicators and generates the associated figures and tables from which a data quality assessment report can be written. Countries that integrate ANACONDA into their vital statistics production system can perform annual assessments of their data with very little effort and at literally no cost.
To monitor progress of improvements in the system, an overall system indicator of quality (the Vital Statistics Performance Index [VSPI(Q)]) has been created and is automatically calculated from the input data.
ANACONDA also builds capacity of staff working with mortality data through guidance built into the tool, and through special trainings conducted by trained facilitators. Guidance and training include an explanation of the concepts underlying each step, how to use the use the tool and how to interpret the results.
The tool is in the public domain and can be downloaded free of charge at:
To assist users of the tool, several supporting materials have been prepared and either integrated into the tool, or made available on the resources section of the CRVS Knowledge Gateway (https://crvsgateway.info/resources). Materials include:
- a detailed guidance manual to assist in interpreting the results
- a manual to facilitate the data entry
- a pre-filled template to prepare a mortality assessment report
- an instruction manual for how to download a COD dataset from the WHO database
- technical guidance for assessing uncertainty in ANACONDA outputs.
More than 40 countries have received training in ANACONDA through workshops hosted by the Bloomberg’s Data for Health Initiative, or by WHO regional agencies and the UN Economic and Social Commissions in Asia, the Pacific and Africa.
A strength of ANACONDA is that it can be used for both national, sub-national and hospital datasets and provides many comparators for countries to compare themselves with. These are drawn mostly from global databases, particularly the Global Burden of Disease database that has individual country data going back to the 1980s. Even though many of these data points are based on estimates, they offer a rich and reliable source of comparators for individual countries to assess the plausibility of their mortality data.
A limitation of ANACONDA is that it works best on datasets with above 2,000 deaths. It is also important to remember that as an assessment tool, it checks data for errors and reveals weaknesses and gaps, but it does not correct these errors. It is therefore necessary to ensure that corrective action is taken after evaluation by concerned authorities. The comprehensive analysis ANACONDA performs of the flaws or bad habits, such as the misuse of certain CODs, makes it possible to prioritise and focus improvement actions. Countries with a large amount of unusable codes are strongly advised to integrate ANACONDA into their data production process and to use it as a monitoring tool for system improvement. The VSPI(Q) values are suitable for monitoring progress.
Guidance for assessing and interpreting the quality of mortality data using ANACONDA
For users of ANACONDA (statisticians and/or analysts in health and statistics departments, researchers, or other experts working with mortality data).
Authors: Mikkelsen L, Lopez AD
Publication date: October 2017
Resource type: CRVS technical guide
Related resources: Course prospectus: ANACONDA
O que é ANACONDA? Uma perspectiva brasileira / What is ANACONDA? A Brazilian perspective
The D4H team at the University of Melbourne spoke to the Brazilian ANACONDA trainer and statistician for the Ministry of Health, Ana Claúdia Medeiros de Souza, about initial feedback of the ANACONDA tool in October 2017.
What are people dying of in Greenland and why?
Greenland's cause of death data have only recently been separated from Denmark in the Global Burden of Disease Study. University of Melbourne Data for Health Initiative visiting academic Kim Moesgaard Iburg is Associate Professor at Aarhus University in Denmark, he is studying how the quality of these data can be improved to further benefit the direction of health policy in the country.