Verbal Autopsy (VA)

In settings with limited access to health care and documentation of deaths, it is challenging to obtain medication certification of causes of death and provide information on the cause of death in communities where there is very limited access to health care and medical certification of causes of death. In such situations the only viable source of information on the terminal illness is from caregivers of the deceased, most often the family members. Ascertaining causes of death from such information is based on the premise that VA respondents can accurately recall the details of the various symptoms and events that occurred during the period of illness prior to death, and that such information can be used to classify the cause(s) of death into diagnostic categories based on specific symptom complexes.

To better understand the causes of death in the BIRHAN catchment, we are conducting verbal autopsies. VA has become an essential public health tool for cause of mortality at a community or population level. Understanding newborn and maternal causes of death in the morbidity and mortality study cohort will lead to the development of interventions to reduce maternal and newborn/child mortality.