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Evaluating the quality of vital statistics. UN Expert Group Meeting, 27-30 June 2011 Dr AJ Lanyon Australian Bureau of Statistics 30 June 2011. Outline. Chapter V: some comments Utility of an assessment framework and guidance tool Example: WHO/UQ HIS-Hub tool

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Evaluating the quality of vital statistics

Evaluating the quality of vital statistics

UN Expert Group Meeting, 27-30 June 2011

Dr AJ Lanyon

Australian Bureau of Statistics

30 June 2011


  • Chapter V: some comments

  • Utility of an assessment framework and guidance tool

  • Example: WHO/UQ HIS-Hub tool

  • Country Developmental Pathways

  • Conclusion?

Chapter v comments
Chapter V: comments

  • Evaluating quality can be challenging and complex

  • Chap V currently provides comprehensive overview of different types of approaches and methods (direct and indirect)

  • Should, in general, be carried forward

Chapter v comments1
Chapter V: comments

  • However:

    • elements of the Chapter are very technical and dense

    • could benefit from reference to an assessment framework that provides guidance about why, when and how to assess different elements of the quality of vital statistics

    • could consider a recommendation on how to manage revisions of data and subsequently vital statistics

Example framework
Example framework

  • Work by WHO / UQ HIS-Hub across past 5 years has demonstrated value in improvement of CR and VS systems of:

    • overarching system assessment framework

    • assessment guidance tool.

  • Help to:

    • Identify strengths / areas for improvement

    • Develop feasible action plans for CR and VS system improvement.


  • Tool developed in light of slow progress in a number of countries in strengthening their CRS

  • Framed to empower countries to develop action-based plan with the support of key stakeholders in their CR and VS systems

Framework focus
Framework focus?

  • Reviewing the system underpinning the production, quality and use of birth, death and cause-of-death information

  • Not just focussed on the product or the output i.e. vital statistics

  • Did not include foetal deaths as many countries not able to collect relevant data – could be expanded to

Evidence that it works
Evidence that it works . .

  • Countries who have successfully used the framework now have:

    • Strong understanding of strengths/weaknesses of their systems

    • Complete understanding of key stakeholders necessary to support effective system functioning

    • Action plan in place to achieve functional and sustainable system and quality VS

    • Intra-agency co-ordinating committee moving forward

What s in the framework
What’s in the framework?

  • Inputs – Legal framework for CR and VS systems; Registration infrastructure and resources.

  • Processes – Registration practices, coverage and completeness; Death certification and cause-of-death; ICD mortality coding practices.

  • Outputs – Data access, use and quality checks.

What s in the guidance tool
What’s in the guidance tool?

  • Comprises series of questions for each sub-component

  • Helps investigate how CR and VS systems have necessary inputs and processes in place to produce quality outputs i.e. vital statistics

  • Assists in better description of:

    • any issues or problems, and

    • possible strategies to address.

Review approach
Review approach

  • Promotes establishment of an inter-agency review team

  • Required to gather relevant (specified) evidence

  • Basic assumption:

    • Buy-in of key stakeholders to process and ownership of final action plan

    • Collaboration


Component e1
Component E1

  • Data quality and plausibility checks

    • Levels of fertility and mortality

    • Causes of death

  • Asks questions like:

    • Are fertility indicators routinely calculated?

    • If so, which ones?

    • What data sources are used as the denominators to calculate rates?

    • Describe plausibility and consistency checks carried out (gives examples)

Developmental pathways
Developmental pathways

  • Rapid assessment version of the tool has been applied in 26 Asia Pacific countries

  • Results help to differentiate between strength of countries CR and VS systems

  • Identified 3 broad groups of countries:

    • dysfunctional to weak systems:

    • Functional but inadequate;

    • Satisfactory (minor adjustments possible).

Developmental pathways1
Developmental pathways

  • Analysis of 26 assessments

  • Cross-cutting issues:

    • Coder qualification and training alongside quality of coding

    • Routine procedures to check quality of fertility and mortality data produced

    • Certification practices

    • Lack of collaboration across government departments.

Developmental pathways2
Developmental pathways

  • Analysis also re-affirmed different countries:

    • different levels of system maturity

    • different strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and

    • different developmental priorities and pathways.

  • Cross-cutting issues could be addressed through regional programmes.


  • Can’t replace technical sophistication required to evaluate quality of VS

  • Can provide a framework to support countries to work through (what can be) a complex and challenging process to understand quality strengths and develop strategies to address issues.