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Medical certification of cause of death (MCCD) is a key source of mortality statistics. The death certificate is a permanent record of the fact and characteristics of death.  It provides important personal information about the decedent, the circumstances and the cause of death. Death certificates should be completed by medical doctors in alignment with international standards and practices.  It allows countries to analyse and identify areas for health service improvements while providing necessary early public health interventions.

Unfortunately, in many developing countries doctors do not receive sufficient training on how to accurately certify deaths in alignment with these international standards.

As such, The Pacific Community (SPC) in collaboration with the Brisbane Accord Group (BAG), conducted a sub-regional training for Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) on medical certification of causes-of-death (MCCD) on the 27th and 28th of February, in Nadi Fiji.

Dr Koko Lwin, Chief Medical Officer from the Ministry of Health Cooks Islands shared that, “after attending this workshop, now feels responsible to share knowledge among the other doctors in Cook Islands. Plans to provide training to junior doctors on how to write a death certificate with time intervals to understand the train of events leading to death.”

This workshop was implemented under the Pacific Islands Regional Programme on Strengthening the Availability and Quality of Causes of Death Data (Pacific CoD Programme) supported by Vital Strategies and the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative. This project builds on the support for Civil Registration and Vital Statistics CRVS systems strengthening that BAG has provided to PICTs since 2010.

Dr Ilisapeci Kubuabola, Non-Communicable Diseases Adviser for SPC’s Public Health Division said, “Improving the quality of cause of death date in the Pacific is critical and we are collaborating with the Brisbane Accord Group (BAG), who over the years been providing routine training to medical doctors on this subject. Through this training and in the future, we hope to build a pool of trained professionals who would lead capacity-strengthening efforts in the region and identify regional and individual country needs for support in technical areas to strengthen the cause of death data."

SPC will continue to work with BAG supported by Vital Strategies and the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative and plans to further strengthen support and engagement in this area, particularly through providing more opportunities for training among Pacific Island countries and Territories and potential establishment of a regional coding centre.

SPC Contact:

  • Scott Pontifex| Statistical advisor | scottp [at] (scottp[at]spc[dot]int)
  • Rumanusina Maua - Maualaivao | Health Information Systems Adviser | rumanusinam [at] (rumanusinam[at]spc[dot]int)

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