Development and application of verbal autopsy methods
Development of practical VA tools and methods that countries can use to routinely collect data on causes of death in their populations; publication of research findings; contribution to global research and debate about the utility of VA methods; implementation research for VA in the Asia-Pacific region.
In many resource poor countries of the region, decades of neglect with CRVS systems means that countries do not have reliable data on causes of death in their populations or how these are changing, despite the enormous policy value and importance of these data. Moreover, it is unlikely that CRVS systems will improve sufficiently over the next 3-5 years to yield reliable cause of death statistics to guide planning and monitoring of progress with global development goals. Staff of the Group have been involved in research to develop automated 'verbal autopsy' (VA) diagnostic tools and to validate their performance in various populations where the true cause of death of an individual has been established. Our research has also led to short form VA questionnaires without a significant drop in diagnostic accuracy, and to the successful application of tablets and smartphones to collect data. These tools are now ready for widespread application by countries to reduce ignorance about leading causes of death but require further research about potential challenges to implementation in populations of the region.
NHMRC Project grant