Cause of Death in Urban Africa: New Experiments with Verbal Autopsy Questionnaires in Accra, Ghana

Samantha Lattof, Harvard School of Public Health
Richard Biritwum, Ghana Medical School

In a pilot study conducted in Accra, Ghana, we first examine the completeness and coverage of these systems and then report on the use of verbal autopsy questionnaires to establish the probable causes of death based on interviews with next of kin. These causes are compared with the information found on death certificates. The paper briefly describes the system in place in Accra for the routine medical certification of causes of death, the issuance of burial permits and the registration of deaths with the Births and Deaths Registry. Several features of the system seem to operate against wider formal registration of causes of death. The paper concludes with some recommendations on how urban mortality in Africa could be re-examined using a combination of census, survey, facility-based and routine death registration with a view to establishing clear patterns of causes of death in such populations.

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Presented in Poster Session 4