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A New Method to Estimate Mortality in Crisis-Affected Populations: Validation and Feasibility Study.

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Hedwig Deconinck

senior emergency nutrition advisor/FANTA-2 AED

Normal user

20 Feb 2009, 23:21

In emergency settings, data on mortality rates and the causes and circumstances of death are crucial to guide health interventions and monitor their effectiveness. Current methods to collect such data require substantial resources and feature important methodological limitations. In response FANTA with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, evaluated an alternative approach to obtaining a population-based measure of mortality, the exhaustive measurement (EM) method .The EM method captures deaths through an exhaustive search for all deaths occurring in the community over a defined and very short recall period. Unlike retrospective surveys, it provides nearly real-time mortality estimates, which are more useful for operational purposes in relief settings. This report evaluates the validity of the EM method against a gold standard measure of mortality based on capture-recapture analysis in various operational settings (rural, urban, camp). Comparative estimates of the time and cost required for data collection and analysis using the EM method and retrospective surveys are provided. Findings from the study suggest that the performance of EM method is comparable to that of existing surveillance systems but appears more feasible in terms of time and financial inputs, as well as ethics, than alternatives. The method shows sufficient promise to warrant further development, Support for this study was provided by USAID's Bureau for Global Health's Office of Health, Infectious Disease and Nutrition. The FANTA-2 Project is managed by the Academy for Educational Development. The report and three calculators for analysis of data collected using the EM method, can be downloaded from FANTA-2's website at

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