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PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e58629. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058629. Epub 2013 Mar 11.

Overestimation of vitamin a supplementation coverage from district tally sheets demonstrates importance of population-based surveys for program improvement: lessons from Tanzania.

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Helen Keller International-Tanzania, Dar es Salam, Tanzania.



Tanzania has conducted a national twice-yearly Vitamin A supplementation (VAS) campaign since 2001. Administrative coverage rates based on tally sheets consistently report >90% coverage; however the accuracy of these rates are uncertain due to potential errors in tally sheets and their aggregation, incomplete or inaccurate reporting from distribution sites, and underestimating the target population.


The post event coverage survey in Mainland Tanzania sought to validate tally-sheet based national coverage estimates of VAS and deworming for the June 2010 mass distribution round, and to characterize children missed by the national campaign.


WHO/EPI randomized cross-sectional cluster sampling methodology was adapted for this study, using 30 clusters by 40 individuals (n = 1200), in addition to key informant interviews. Households with children 6-59 months of age were included in the study (12-59 months for deworming analysis). Chi-squared tests and logistic regression analysis were used to test differences between children reached and not reached by VAS. Data was collected within six weeks of the June 2010 round.


A total of 1203 children, 58 health workers, 30 village leaders and 45 community health workers were sampled. Preschool VAS coverage was 65% (95% CI: 62.7-68.1), approximately 30% lower than tally-sheet coverage estimates. Factors associated with not receiving VAS were urban residence [OR = 3.31; p = 0.01], caretakers who did not hear about the campaign [OR = 48.7; p<0.001], and Muslim households [OR<3.25; p<0.01]. There were no significant differences in VAS coverage by child sex or age, or maternal age or education.


Coverage estimation for vitamin A supplementation programs is one of most powerful indicators of program success. National VAS coverage based on a tally-sheet system overestimated VAS coverage by ∼30%. There is a need for representative population-based coverage surveys to complement and validate tally-sheet estimates.

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