Global Program for Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) Improvement

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The registration of all births and deaths is a fundamental obligation of government, but it is an obligation that is not met in most developing countries.  UNICEF estimates that more than 50 million infants – more than two-fifths of those born – were not registered in 2000.  Only 26 percent of the world’s population lives in countries with complete registration of deaths, and this proportion is particularly low in Africa (7 % overall and less than 3 % in Sub-Saharan Africa).  In addition, little progress has been made in birth and death registration over the past 30 to 40 years, in particular concerning deaths.  This failure is unacceptable, as it denies children a basic human right – proof of their identity – and deprives government of essential information to address population health, education, and other important needs.  For example, accurate and timely vital statistics data, including cause-of-death information, are critical to inform public health decision making.

Recent developments have set the stage for a renewed effort to improve civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS).  Numerous international organizations have recognized the need for vital statistics information in developing countries and can be effective partners for CDC’s Global Program for CRVS Improvement. Notably, the establishment of a system for registration of births, deaths, and causes of death is the first 10 recommendations by the Commision for Information and Accountablity for Women’s and Children’s Health.The Commission’s final report, entitled Keeping Promises, Measuring Results, calls for innovative and strategic action to accomplish the two Millennium Development Goals related to women’s and children’s health, which require vital statistics data to measure progress.   In addition, economic development occurring in certain developing countries has put in place an effective government infrastructure that can support a CRVS system. Alternative approaches, such as sample registration systems, have been shown to work in a variety of countries and can provide a first step in the development of complete vital registration and statistics systems.

The International Statistics Program has initiated a vital registration improvement effort in countries around the world.  This effort assists selected countries in establishing uniquely tailored strategies to improve their CRVS systems.  Improvement strategies focus on training, demonstration projects, and mortality data improvement through international technical assistance and development of a CRVS curriculum.  Additional information can be found in the links below.