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Weak CRVS Systems Deny Services to Billions and Pose Threat to SDG Progress

(New York, USA) – Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) systems in many low- and middle-income countries are facing challenges of both supply and demand for services as well as severe resource constraints. Poorly functioning CRVS systems leave people without access to health services and social benefits, and leave governments without accurate cause of death statistics on which to base health policy. On World Health Day, Vital Strategies calls for increased investment in CRVS coupled with strategic planning for system improvement.

2.8 billion people – approximately 40% of the world’s population – have been born and will likely die without any official record of their existence. Lack of legal identity, which civil registration provides, hampers the lives of billions in their efforts to exercise their rights to vote or obtain other basic services. Lack of vital information generated from registration records (like births, deaths, marriages and divorces) prevents policymakers from using accurate data to develop and enforce laws and regulations and deliver services that will improve population health. Furthermore, CRVS systems contribute to up to 40% of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and targets. Weak CRVS, therefore, hinder both the achievement and measurement of the SDGs.

“Country investments in improved CRVS systems are a double win for individuals currently being left behind, and for governments seeking to do evidence-based planning. CRVS is the best long-term way to serve everyone and sustainably determine the needs of national and sub-national populations,” said Philip Setel, Vice President and Director, Civil Registration/Vital Statistics Program at Vital Strategies. “Improved data can help inform governments, civil society, and policymakers on what makes people sick or die – which can guide governments on critical decisions concerning resource allocation and public policy priorities. What’s more, of the nine health-related SDGs, five are directly measured by mortality measures that come from CRVS systems. We urge countries to use inter-ministerial CRVS governance and coordination mechanisms to prioritize which aspects of the system to improve first.”

Vital Strategies is an implementing partner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative, co-funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Australian Government. The $100 million initiative works to improve the collection and use of critical public health data in 20 low- and middle-countries around the world.

Learn more about our work in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative by visiting

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change. To find out more, please visit or Twitter @VitalStrat.

For further information or to arrange an interview with a Vital Strategies expert, please contact