WHO making efforts to address causes of death and registration

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CVRS systems | Dr Owen Kaluwa, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative to Ghana, on Monday said major efforts are being made at WHO Regional offices to support death registration and cause of death as a cross-cutting issue.

He said due to complex inter-linkages and inter-sectoral nature of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CVRS) system, better coordination within the health sector and with other sectors such as the civil registry offices and national statistics offices were being put in place.

“Our offices will like to work with the regional forces and our sister pioneer countries to seek better locally adaptable solution,” Dr Kaluwa said at the opening of the Verbal Autopsy Registration and Vital Statistics Systems workshop in Accra.

The international workshop organized by WHO in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service aimed at promoting and supporting improvement of CVRS systems in Africa.

It also had goals of developing standards for recording vital events and managing information on community deaths into integrated health management information system, in an important step towards strengthening sustainable approaches to improving mortality statistics.

He said the WHO had also noticed that current development of Verbal Autopsy tools may provide such solutions and that, such tools could be used in demographic surveillance sites to explore the probable cause of death which occurred at homes.

“This may help us to scale up community death registration coverage and cause of death data collection as well,” he said.

According to Dr Kaluwa, out of the 54 member States in Africa, 12 countries had registered at least 60 per cent of deaths from their most recent data, adding; “In Africa regional strategy for the whole continent, we have set 20 countries to reach this target by 2020”.

He therefore mentioned timely registration, a focus on improving death registration and cause of death in health facilities, and representative scalable designs for identifying deaths and their causes at community levels as some of the technical strategy put in place by WHO to improve motility by 2015-2020.

Mr Kinsley Aboagye-Gyedu, the Deputy Minister of Health in a speech read on his behalf, said currently, millions of people born and died in Africa and Asia without leaving any trace in legal records or official statistics because of the stagnated CVRS systems over the past 30 years.

He said the CVRS systems, when applied in conjunction with validated verbal autopsy procedures and implementation in a nationally representative sample of population clusters would represent an affordable, cost-effective and sustainable short-term and medium- term solution to policy, monitoring and evaluation.

“The CVRS systems are not only a source of legal documentation and empowerment for individuals, but also generate crucial evidence for economic, social and health decision-making,” he said.

Mr Abogye-Gyedu observed that, whilst the world was continuing the efforts of improving coverage of medical certification of causes of death, there was the need to temporarily fill the exiting information gap.

He said: “Verbal autopsy may be an imperfect method for ascertaining the cause of death, but is the only alternative in the absence of medical certification.

“Certainly, we still need to identify deaths in order to be able to conduct the verbal autopsy, and local settings, will drive the way how to achieve that task best”.

Mr Abogye-Gyedu called for the establishment of best practical policies and procedures that would encourage innovation and development.

“We need to promote the development of standards to guide training and help the integration of information and communication Verbal Autopsy in Civil Registration and Vital Statistics systems.

“We must create the environment that will enhance our ability to extend services across geographically remote populations thereby saving costs and increasing efficiency,” he advised.

Dr Gloria Quansah Asare, the Deputy Director of the Ghana Health Service, said CVRS systems were important part of better health delivery especially in areas where CVRS systems were not accessible.

She said Ghana was doing well in CVRS cases following the establishment of research centres of Verbal Autopsy in Dodowa in the Greater Accra Region, Kintampo in the Brong Ahafo and Navrongo in the Upper East Region where demographic surveys were carried out in the catchment areas of these regions.

Dr Quansah Asare assured of a close working relation with the birth and death registries in the country for improved CVRS system measures.

She therefore lauded organisers of the meeting saying it was timely and would help the 65 experts and representatives to look at the universal health coverage and track of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Among the participating countries in the four-day CVRS systems workshop are; Ghana, Bangladesh, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Yemen, Rwanda, Solanki, Tanzania and Zambia.

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Source: GNA