Mortality and cause of death statistics are primary requirements for the management of national health programmes, including defining immediate interventions for disease outbreaks and epidemics. In most African countries, mortality statistics systems are weak, often characterized by fragmented and uncoordinated collections from multiple sources. As a result, African countries lack continuous, permanent and universal sources of mortality data, and thereby face considerable challenges in developing health interventions and building health systems, measuring and monitoring mortality, and in reporting against national and global development mortality goals and targets, such as those set by the Millennium Development Goals.
The evidence of this weakness was visible in the lack of available real time mortality data in the Ebola outbreak experienced in Western Africa. During its third conference held in Côte d’Ivoire in February 2015, the African Ministers responsible for Civil Registration took note of the situation and called upon the World Health Organization (WHO) and its pan-African partners to take urgent steps to support African States in establishing real time death registration and cause of death information systems.
The five-year strategy is developed to directly deal with this ministerial call for action. The overarching objective is to make readily available continuous, harmonized, quality mortality and cause of death data and statistics for African countries, guiding the development of better planned, designed and integrated mortality systems.