Introduction to Epidemiology

This module provides a refresher on the foundations of epidemiology. It covers the measures of frequency which include count, prevalence, and incidence. It concludes by discussing descriptive epidemiology, which answers the questions, what, who, when and where about health events.

Introduction to Advanced Epidemiology

Sources and Uses of PH Data

Data Visualization and Mapping

Burden of Disease

Health Inequity

Evidence-Based Decision-Making

Assessing Routine Health Data

Introduccion a la epidemiologia

Introduccion a la epidemiologia avanzada

Fuentes y Usos de Datos de Salud Publica

Visualizacion y mapeo de datos

Carga de Enfermedad

Inequidad en la salud

Toma de decisiones basada en evidencia

Evaluacion de datos rutinarios de salud

Medical Certification of Cause of Death Course

Introduction a l'epidemiologie


Introduction a l'epidemiologie avancee

Sources et utilisations des donnees de sante publique

Visualisation et cartographie des donnees

Fardeau de la maladie

L'iniquite en matiere de sante

Prise de decision factuelle

Evaluation des donnees de sante de routine

Using CRVS Data in Public Health Journalism

Communicating with Data

Cost Analysis

Certification mdicale de la cause du dcs

Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) Systems Improvement Framework [Full Learning Program]

D2P Uganda_Writing key messages and title

D2P Uganda_Advocacy strategy and communications with decision-makers

Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) Systems Improvement Framework [Module 1 Only]

Communication for development for CRVS practitioners

D2P Philippines_Literature search and other data sources

D2P Philippines_Framing an economic evaluation

D2P Philippines_Assessing policy options health impacts

D2P Philippines_Cost analysis

D2P Philippines_Economic evaluation methods

D2P Philippines_Sensitivity analysis

D2P Philippines_Problem framing and root cause analysis

D2P Philippines_Master Program

Importance of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics


Accurate civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) data are critical to understanding national health status and developing appropriate strategies and relevant policies to improve population health. In the absence of CRVS data, countries lack a clear picture of birth and death rates and the causes of death. This data gap makes it difficult to allocate resources appropriately to health, education, and other key government sectors. As part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative, countries around the world are investing in expanding and improving the quality of the CRVS systems. However, unless data are regularly analyzed and used, neither government nor citizens will not reap the benefits of this investment. Vital statistics generated by well-functioning civil registration systems are crucial for policy development and decision-making and are central to monitoring several Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets.  

Course overview and objective

The Analysis and Use of Vital Statistics e-Learning Course consists of 10 interactive modules focused on assessing the quality of CRVS data, the production of vital statistics from CRVS records, and application and use of this data for policy- and decision-making. The course is a virtual adaptation of the Data for Health Initiative's "CRVS Data Use Course" developed in partnership between Vital Strategies, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the University of Melbourne. The primary audience of the course include government staff working within the Ministry of Health, national statistics office, or other agency responsible for analyzing and producing vital statistics. Students interested or engaged in epidemiology, statistics, or public health may also benefit from this course. Participants will become more familiar with advanced uses of CRVS data, learn to create high-quality vital statistics visualizations and reports, and learn to disseminate CRVS data to multiple audiences and stakeholders.  

Upon completion of the course, participants will have strengthened capacity to analyze and produce vital statistics for the purpose of disseminating and communicating the information to relevant stakeholders. Possible outputs may include an analytical report using vital statistics, such as a national vital statistics report, a mortality profile, or a data brief focused on policy recommendations. The course is linked to the Production of a Vital Statistics Report resource kit, produced in collaboration with UN ECA, UN ESCAP, and Statistics Norway. The course is a foundational element of a virtual engagement package on analyzing CRVS data that can be taken as part of a larger, guided training, or independently for targeted skills-building. 

The course will also include short video webisodes, where an invited topic expert will provide a deeper overview of subject areas important to vital statistics. These subject areas include: calculating completeness of registration, understanding verbal autopsy, creating effective visualizations, calculating and understanding excess mortality, and using the Production of a Vital Statistics Report resource kit.  

Module Structure

1. Importance of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics

2. Assessing CRVS Data Quality and Completeness

3. Basic Measures from Vital Statistics: Births

4. Basic Measures from Vital Statistics: Deaths

5. Causes of Death

6. Analyzing and Interpreting Vital Statistics

7. Visualizing Vital Statistics

8. Advanced Measures

9. Disseminating Vital Statistics

10. Using Vital Statistics to Inform Policy and Planning

Module 1.

This module provides an overview of CRVS and the social and health benefits from high-quality data from civil registration records. Participants will learn about the public health uses of data from CRVS systems, including developing public health policies, monitoring health systems, and evaluating public health programs. Upon completion of the modules, participants will understand the how to define civil registration and vital statistics, the types of vital records recognized by the UN and both the challenges and benefits of CRVS systems.  

Assessing CRVS Data Quality and Completeness

Module 2. 

During Module 2, participants will understand how low-quality data can adversely affect the accuracy of vital statistics. The module reviews methods (both direct and indirect) on estimating the completeness of birth and death registration and how to assess the plausibility of mortality measures. Participants will also learn about the importance of high-quality cause-of-death data and how this data can be assessed, using tools such as ANACoD4 or ANACONDA.  

Basic Measures from Vital Statistics: Births

Module 3.

This module introduces birth statistics that are important for monitoring, tracking Sustainable Development Goals, reporting, and understanding the fertility trends in a country. Upon completion of the module, participants will know how to calculate birth statistics such as sex ratio, crude birth rate, and total fertility rate, which are important to report on in a national vital statistics report.  

Basic Measures from Vital Statistics: Deaths

Module 4. 

The module on death statistics provides an overview of mortality measures that are important for monitoring, tracking Sustainable Development Goals, reporting, and understanding the mortality trends in a country. These measures include: the crude death rate, age-specific mortality rates, under 5 mortality rate, and the infant mortality rate. Participants will learn about the importance of age standardization to account for the differing age distributions across populations. Finally, participants will be introduced to how to calculate key mortality measures using life tables.  

Causes of Death

Module 5. 

Upon completion of this module, participants will understand how cause of death (COD) data are generated, including the sources of COD data, and how to conduct basic analyses of this data. Participants will also learn why COD data are important for various stakeholders (e.g., agencies, researchers, medical practitioners) and how COD data can be used. Finally, the module will provide an overview of verbal autopsy, which is used to ascertain cause of death and cause-specific mortality fractions when medical certification of cause of death (MCCD) is unavailable.  

Analyzing and Interpreting Vital Statistics

Module 6. 

Module 6 will help participants understand how to use descriptive epidemiology to assess and interpret vital statistics. This will include using epidemiological topics such as rate difference and rate ratio to compare and make meaning of vital statistics. Participants will gain an understanding of inequalities in mortality when disaggregating vital statistics by demographic factors and learn how to calculate and interpret excess mortality, an important concept to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Communicating Vital Statistics Through Visualizations

Module 7. 

Upon completion of this module, participants will be able to describe and compare the main types of visualizations used to depict vital statistics and understand the factors involved in determining which visualization best suits a communication purpose. Participants will also understand important design principles that contribute to effective data visualization.  

Advanced Measures

Module 8. 

In this module, participants will dive deeper into how CRVS data can be applied to calculate epidemiological measures such as attributable mortality, years of life lost (YLL), and measures to assess the burden of disease.   

Disseminating Vital Statistics

Module 9.

This session provides an overview of how to identify and communicate findings to a targeted audience and how to identify the best way to communicate the message. Participants will learn about different types of analytical reports, including national vital statistics reports, that can be produced to disseminate vital statistics and learn about other types of media, such as press release, to communicate findings.  

Using Vital Statistics to Inform Policy and Planning

Module 10. 

Upon completion of this module, participants will understand how vital statistics can be used to inform policy decisions, program planning, and program evaluation. Participants will hear about examples of where CRVS indicators such as cause-specific mortality and infant mortality rate were used to identify a problem and evaluate a program.  

Webisode - Assessing CRVS Data Quality and Completeness

Webisode - Verbal Autopsy

Webisode - Excess Mortality

Webisode - Communicating Vital Statistics Through Visualizations

Webisode - Using the Vital Statistics Report Resource Kit

D2P Sri Lanka - Master Program

D2P Sri Lanka - Literature search and other data sources

D2P Sri Lanka - Problem framing and root cause analysis

D2P Sri Lanka - Framing an economic evaluation

D2P Sri Lanka - Assessing policy options health impacts

D2P Sri Lanka - Cost analysis

D2P Sri Lanka - Economic evaluation methods

D2P Sri Lanka - Sensitivity analysis

D2P Philippines_Writing effective policy briefs

D2P Philippines_Writing the problem statement

D2P Philippines_Writing the policy options section

D2P Philippines_Making & writing recommendations

D2P Philippines_Writing key messages and title

D2P Philippines_Advocacy strategy and communication