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Verbal autopsy: who needs it?

Population Health Metrics20119:19

Received: 13 April 2011

Accepted: 27 July 2011

Published: 27 July 2011

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Archived Comments

  1. Social autopsy

    30 August 2011

    Neil Pakenham-Walsh, Global Healthcare Information Network/

    AbouZahr describes ascertainment by interview of (1) cause of death and (2) social, care-seeking and other factors leading to death. These are two quite different challenges with different underlying purposes. The first may be described as verbal autopsy, but the second is more usually described a social autopsy. Social autopsy is rarely conducted but could, as AbouZahr relates, provide very important information about how to break the chain of the 'road to death', whereby a chain of events, decisions, and circumstances lead to most, if not all, avoidable deaths. That chain could be broken by empowering parents and healthcare providers - including empowerment with basic clinical healthcare knowledge such as recognition of danger signs.

    Competing interests

    None declared

Authors’ Affiliations

Health Metrics Network, World Health Organization