The Hague Colloquium on the Future of Legal Identity

Civil Registration Centre for Development, The Hague and the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, Johannesburg

The role of the health sector in CRVS and the potential of unique individual identifiers for improved mortality statistics

Country health and statistical systems are facing growing pressures to demonstrate results and promote accountability. This has led to an upsurge in health sector interventions to track vital events – notably births and deaths and their causes – in order to understand the dimensions of premature mortality and develop and monitor interventions to avert such deaths. This proactive health sector engagement in CRVS development is characterized by innovative approaches – including the use of electronic and mobile communication methods – to improve the identification, reporting, and registration of births and deaths and causes of death in facilities and at community level. In settings where each individual has a unique identification number from birth, it is possible to significantly enhance the availability and quality of mortality statistics through record linkage across databases. For example, computerized algorithms can be linked to death certificates of reproductive-aged women with maternal identifiers on birth and foetal death certificates, or to compare records between the death registry and hospital discharge databases. This enables more complete identification of maternal and neonatal deaths, reductions in misreporting and more accurate monitoring of maternal and neonatal mortality. It also contributes to improved understanding of the causes and circumstances of deaths. Sharing of individual record data should be promoted as part of public health surveillance but requires a supportive legal and administrative framework, with agreed standards for confidentiality and data security.

Event reference: 
The Hague Colloquium on the Future of Legal Identity