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Why measure mortality

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Why is mortality so frequently monitored in humanitarian emergencies?

  • Death is the final common outcome of many health and nutrition problems
    • It is a single indicator which can signal a broad range of health problems
  • It is easily defined
  • Information on deaths is often already collected by authorities

Because monitoring mortality is so useful to public health authorities, mortality registration is mandatory in almost all countries. Vital statistics systems record certain information on each death, such as name, age at death, and cause of death, then sum the number of deaths periodically to calculate mortality rates. However, in many less-developed countries, vital statistics systems are very incomplete. Even in countries with well-functioning systems, such systems often break down early in settings of armed conflict.