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Catalyzing Change Through Partnership:

2023 Year in Review

In Cambodia, General Department of Identification staff visits the family whose baby was the first to be registered under the health-CR link pilot project at Sangkat Kakap 1 in Phnom Penh.
An interviewer conducts a questionnaire about lead exposure during a home visit in Bihar, India as part of our Environmental Health division’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention program.
Our Data Impact program, part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative, joined the University of Papua New Guinea to help train emerging local health leaders on data-centered leadership. Here, Serah Dot (left), Hospital Manager from Western Highlands province and Maria Posanek, Health Manager, Catholic Health Services, East New Britain province work on a data Interpretation exercise.
Marleny Mesa Trompeta (center right) and her husband Andres Efrain Noscue (right), taking part in a verbal autopsy with members of the Colombia Rural Vital team a few weeks after their three-month-old son Eliad Noscue Mesa died. The photo was part of the New York Times Magazine cover story “The Incredible Challenge of Counting Every Global Birth and Death” by Jeneen Interlandi, which featured work by the Vital Strategies Civil Registration and Vital Statistics program. Photo Credit: Juan Arredondo for The New York Times Magazine.
An activation event in Johannesburg, South Africa for the “Better Labels, Better Choices” campaign calls for clearer warning labels on unhealthy, ultra-processed foods and beverages while the proposed front-of-package label regulations are open for public comment.
Roz, a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Worker demonstrates how to administer Naloxone to someone in order to reverse a fatal overdose.
Mayor Carolina Cosse of Montevideo, Uruguay launches the healthy food for public employees program as part of the Partnership for Healthy Cities.
In Bangladesh, Chattogram City Corporation and the Chattogram Metropolitan Police released their first-ever road crash report, which showed that 56% of traffic deaths in the city are pedestrians.
Policymakers and advocates in RESET Alcohol countries gathered in October in Cape Town, South Africa to share best practices and lessons learned, as well as opportunities to push alcohol policy forward in their countries.
Our VitalTalks Live event panel discussion following the screening of the premiere of the film “Tobacco Slave”. The film exposes tobacco giant Imperial Brands and other companies through first-hand accounts from farmers in Malawi.
On World No Tobacco Day, Partnership for Healthy Cities technical lead Dr. Thriveni Beerenahally joined a local march to highlight the city’s smoke-free work in Bengaluru, India.
A video on tobacco and e-cigarette harms being shown in Hanoi, Vietnam
A birth registration being conducted with a community health volunteer and village member for the Global Grants Program-funded project focusing on improving birth and death registrations in the North Bank Region of The Gambia.

Transforming Lives Through Data

High-quality data is the foundation of public health. We support governments to gather and use evidence to generate insights, inform action and set priorities to drive effective policymaking. When governments can turn data into action, the result is longer, healthier lives for all.


% of 331 divisional secretariat offices in Sri Lanka where quality-assured cause-of-death data is now captured digitally


people living in Cambodia who now have the right to legal identity under new legislation


physicians who have been trained in the medical certification of cause of death in Colombia

Making Everyone Count by Counting Everyone in Colombia, Cambodia and Sri Lanka

On the surface, Colombia’s birth and death registration statistics are high: In 2023, more than 97% of births and 91% of deaths were registered. But most of the people who are left behind are from rural, indigenous and poor communities. Since 2018, the Colombia Rural Vital project, a partnership between Vital Strategies’ Civil Registration and Vital Statistics team and the national government, has been seeking to ensure that all vital events—even those among the people who are hardest to reach—are captured. Birth and death registration is essential to empower people with all of the benefits of legal identity, ranging from health care and education to inheritance rights.

Vital Strategies has provided funding, technical assistance, hardware, software, training and more over the past seven years, under the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative. Colombia now leads the region in best-practice CRVS systems, including the newest methods for assigning causes of death. It is also among the first countries in the world to include the option of a non-binary gender identity on death certificates. Here, a physician fills out a death certificate at a home in Bogota. Photo credit: Juan Arredondo for The New York Times



Verbal autopsy—determining the probable cause of death by interviewing the deceased’s family and caregivers—is improving data on deaths that happen outside a health facility. A total of 80% of the health professionals who perform verbal autopsy in three of the country’s most underserved departments have been trained. In 2023, they conducted more than 500 verbal autopsies, such as the one shown here, to uncover the leading killers of ethnic minorities living in some of the country’s poorest rural locations. Photo credit: Juan Arredondo for The New York Times

Colombia has also advanced digital interoperability among its CRVS components: Now, agencies for health, civil registration, statistics and medico­-legal death investigation can all exchange information. Data can be collected, processed, analyzed and made available to decision-makers in near real time. Here, a staff member at a hospital in Mocoa reviews decades-old files, a kind of manual search that is less common now, making the system more efficient. Photo credit: Juan Arredondo for The New York Times

After seven years of engagement with Vital Strategies’ CRVS team, Colombia has achieved sustained impact under government ownership and leadership. The country has made policy, planning, and financial commitments so that the CRVS improvements are a permanent part of the country’s health data infrastructure.

“Nationally, we have about 85 to 90 percent [birth registration]coverage now… But that last 15 percent makes up the poorest, most disenfranchised segment of the population. You’re talking about five or six million people. And because they aren’t registered, it’s as if they don’t exist.
Víctor Hugo Álvarez Castaño
former director of epidemiology at Colombia’s Ministry of Health
Earlier civil registration and vital statistics work was fragmented. Now, however, this work is managed by a dedicated institution… I believe that reforming toward a strong civil registration and identification system in Cambodia contributes to strengthening the rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights, and promoting national security and safety.”
H.E. Sante Bandith Mao Chandara
Secretary of State, Ministry of Interior, Vice Chair of National Steering Committee of CRVS and Identification, Cambodia

New Law Gives Every Person Living in Cambodia the Right to a Legal Identity

Cambodia’s CRVS and Identity Management (CRVS-ID) law guarantees civil registration for all 16.8 million people living in Cambodia. The law resulted from a partnership between the Royal Government of Cambodia, Vital Strategies and the Global Health Advocacy Incubator. Every vital event will now be registered, regardless of the person’s nationality, citizenship, ethnicity, location or gender. This means everyone residing in the country can prove their legal identity, guaranteeing key human rights. Read more.

Sri Lanka Institutionalizes Its M&E System for Mortality Data 

In March 2023, an online real-time mortality registration dashboard for the country of Sri Lanka was launched across the island with plans to add cause-of-death data in the near future. Under the Data for Health Initiative and with support from Vital’s CRVS team, the Registrar General’s Department successfully completed software development and achieved island-wide implementation, including national-level mortality data visualization to enable data-driven policymaking. At left, a quality check visualization in the system.