Carla AbouZahr is a Senior Technical Adviser on civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) to the Data for Health Initiative at the University of Melbourne. With qualifications in statistics and public health, she had a two-decade career at the World Health Organization where she was responsible for the annual flagship publications, World Health Statistics, and for technical support to countries for health systems strengthening. Following her retirement, she established CAZ Consulting through which she provides consultancy support to countries and institutional partners in the area of health information systems.
Carla’s involvement in CRVS originated in the course of her work on monitoring maternal mortality and the realisation that for two-thirds of the world’s deaths there is no reliable evidence base to underpin public health interventions. Statistically modelled estimates of mortality and causes of death, usually developed in global development agencies and academic institutions, are a poor substitute for country-produced empirical data. Only by way of national systems to register all births and deaths can countries generate complete and continuous vital statistics on fertility, mortality and causes of death.
Carla led and coordinated the Monitoring Vital Events group of experts that produced the first series of papers on civil registration and vital statistics published in the Lancet in 2007. A second series of papers on CRVS progress was issued in 2015. In her role as technical adviser to the Data for Health Initiative, Carla provides technical support to countries and is leading the development of capacity development materials and the production of a resource gateway designed to facilitate access to a range of materials covering all aspects of CRVS development and country experiences.