Completeness and Quality of Lusaka (Zambia) Burial Permit Data

Authors: Kavi Bhalla, Jerry P Abraham

Date: July 7, 2010

Objective: To do a crude test of the completeness and quality of the Lusaka burial permit dataset

Method: The number of deaths in the Lusaka burial permits database was compared with an estimate of the number of deaths expected in the Lusaka metropolitan area


- The quality of cause of death attribution of the dataset is relatively low with a relatively high number of deaths assigned to unspecified causes.

- The completeness of the database is low for injury (~15%) but higher (~50%) for all-cause deaths.


- Data Source Analyzed: Register of Deaths, Lusaka Burial Permits Office. The dataset contained records for the year full year of 2008 and partial year 2007. The data analyzed here is for the year 2008.

- Analysis in this report should be repeated once better data on urban mortality in Zambia is available:

- The analysis in this report uses crude estimates of population and mortality in Zambia. Typically these have been extrapolated from estimates available for the country in international databases.

- Since this is a vital registration dataset, it contains both injury and non-injury deaths.

Assessment of Quality of Injury Coding

· Table 1 suggests that the database is not biased towards injury cases.

· Table 2 suggests that the database is biased towards Male deaths.

· The quality of cause of death attribution in the dataset is low in the current form

o 43% of all deaths are “Possible Injury”

o 14% of injury deaths are unspecified

Table 1: Distribution of injury and non-injury deaths (Year 2008)

Table 2: Age distribution of all-cause deaths (Year 2008)

Table 3: Distribution of Injury Deaths

Assessment of Completeness

· Coverage: It is assumed that the death registration data contains deaths only from Lusaka. (99.6% of the deaths are from Lusaka District)

· Age aggregation: The assessment focuses on deaths among young adults aged between 15-59 years. This was done to reduce uncertainty in this analysis. (Injuries occur primarily among young adults and the high mortality among children and older adults can add substantial uncertainty to analysis)

· Table 4 shows that the completeness of the mortuary data set is low for injury deaths (~15%), probably because injury deaths are classified to possible injuries. Completeness is about 50% for all-cause deaths.

TABLE 4: Assessment of completeness of the Lusaka Burial Permits dataset (2008)