CPC Fellow Philip Setel's work on the need for reliable vital statistics data appears in news

Oct 31, 2007

Many people in Africa and Asia are born and die without leaving a trace in official records, which leaves countries unable to track and cater to the health needs of their populations, experts say.

In a series of articles published in the latest issue of The Lancet, they urged governments to collect reliable data for births, deaths and causes of death.

"If vital statistics of births and deaths are combined with accurate cause-of-death data, their usefulness for health decision-making is greatly increased," wrote Philip Setel of MEASURE Evaluation at the University of North Carolina.

To read the entire article ("Many Asian and African deaths may go uncounted," Reuters, October 30, 2007), click here:


This news story is related to the publication of The Lancet's new series "Who Counts?" In the lead paper of this series, "A Scandal of Invisibility: Making Everyone Count by Counting Everyone," Philip Setel and colleagues analyze the lack or inadequacy of civil registration systems for counting births, deaths and causes of death. Without these statistics, Setel said, officials can make only "educated guesses" based on models about the numbers of deaths due to various causes in their populations.

Setel led the development of a toolkit called Sample Vital Registration with Verbal Autopsy, or "SAVVY" which can provide an ongoing source of data on mortality and causes of death for countries in which they have never previously existed. The SAVVY resource library provides all the necessary reference materials to establish a complete system capable of generating nationally representative vital events information or strengthening existing sources of data. The materials, developed by colleagues at MEASURE Evaluation and the U.S Census Bureau, are the result of extensive field application and expert review and are consistent with agreed international standards and best-practices.

To tour the SAVVY resource library online, visit: http://www.cpc.unc.edu/measure/leadership/savvy.html.

To order a copy of the SAVVY resource library on CD, visit: http://www.cpc.unc.edu/measure/publications/index.php and search [cl-07-03-en].

Read the UNC News press release about this research at


The Lancet article is only available as an early online publication at this writing. Click here to access the online article:


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