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Glob Health Action. 2014 Oct 29;7:25510. doi: 10.3402/gha.v7.25510. eCollection 2014.

Distribution of cause of death in rural Bangladesh during 2003-2010: evidence from two rural areas within Matlab Health and Demographic Surveillance site.

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Centre for Population, Urbanization and Climate Change, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research (icddr,b), Dhaka, Bangladesh;
Formerly with Health Information System Knowledge Hub, School of Public Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
Centre for Population, Urbanization and Climate Change, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research (icddr,b), Dhaka, Bangladesh.



This study used the InterVA-4 computerised model to assign probable cause of death (CoD) to verbal autopsies (VAs) generated from two rural areas, with a difference in health service provision, within the Matlab Health and Demographic Surveillance site (HDSS). This study aimed to compare CoD by gender, as well as discussing possible factors which could influence differences in the distribution of CoD between the two areas.


Data for this study came from the Matlab the HDSS maintained by the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) since 1966. In late 1977, icddr,b divided HDSS and implemented a high-quality maternal, newborn and child health and family planning (MNCH-FP) services project in one half, called the icddr,b service area (SA), in addition to the usual public and private MNCH-FP services that serve the other half, called the government SA. HDSS field workers registered 12,144 deaths during 2003-2010, and trained interviewers obtained VA for 98.9% of them. The probabilistic model InterVA-4 probabilistic model (version 4.02) was used to derive probable CoD from VA symptoms. Cause-specific mortality rates and fractions were compared across gender and areas. Appropriate statistical tests were applied for significance testing.


Mortality rates due to neonatal causes and communicable diseases (CDs) were lower in the icddr,b SA than in the government SA, where mortality rates due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) were lower. Cause-specific mortality fractions (CSMFs) due to CDs (23.2% versus 18.8%) and neonatal causes (7.4% versus 6%) were higher in the government SA, whereas CSMFs due to NCDs were higher (58.2% versus 50.7%) in the icddr,b SA. The rank-order of CSMFs by age group showed marked variations, the largest category being acute respiratory infection/pneumonia in infancy, injury in 1-4 and 5-14 years, neoplasms in 15-49 and 50-64 years, and stroke in 65+ years.


Automated InterVA-4 coding of VA to determine probable CoD revealed the difference in the structure of CoD between areas with prominence of NCDs in both areas. Such information can help local planning of health services for prevention and management of disease burden.


Bangladesh; InterVA; Matlab; cause of death; verbal autopsy

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