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“How many people have died from COVID-19?” - this seemingly straightforward question cannot be answered in many countries due to the absence of a complete and well-functioning civil registration system. Tasked with estimating national and global COVID-19-associated mortality, the United Nations Technical Advisory Group (TAG) found that only 38 per cent of countries had the required monthly mortality data from January 2020 to December 2021.

The lack of data reflects a serious flaw in national vital statistics systems, which encompass death registration, household surveys and population censuses. Death registration in many countries is incomplete and delayed; data collection through censuses and surveys provides data with a time lag of 5 to 10 years; and mortality data for adults are often not collected.

To help improve the availability and timeliness of adult mortality data for countries without a well-functioning civil registration and vital statistics system, we are launching the Measuring Adult Mortality Community of Practice (MAM-CoP) - to collaborate, share knowledge and experiences as well as foster peer-to-peer learning on innovative ways to collect and analyze data from household surveys, censuses, or taking an integrated approach that brings different data sources together.

The Community of Practice is comprised of a group of enthusiastic colleagues who come together to share their expertise, experiences, and innovative practices that make adult mortality data more reliable and timelier. Our Community of Practice is open to all: statisticians and demographers in national statistical offices, research institutions, health ministries and beyond, as long as you have something to share!

So, why did we create this Community of Practice? In addition to COVID-19 highlighting the blind spot for adult mortality when trying to understand the true death toll of the pandemic, a number of other factors are also worth mentioning. First, an increasing proportion of all deaths now occur at adult and older adult ages as child mortality declined significantly and, concomitantly, populations have aged. The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has, in contrast with the earlier Millennium Development Goals, incorporated a number of cause-specific mortality indicators (e.g., cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes or chronic respiratory disease). Lastly, considerable progress has been made using surveys and censuses to estimate child and maternal mortality, while other components of mortality at adult ages are often extrapolated from childhood mortality indices and model life tables.

What will the Community of Practice cover? The answer is anything innovative. It could be an experiment that extended the 12 months reference period recent household deaths to 3 years. It could also be a rapid mobile phone survey that was carried out for areas that cannot be accessed due to pandemic or conflict. We would like to cover different experiences, whether successful or not.  If they did not work so well, what could be the possible reason? These will be invaluable resources for other members of the Community for additional experiments. A full list of topics to be covered can be found in the final report (Annex 6) of the United Nations Expert Group Meeting organized by the United Nations Statistics Division, in collaboration with New York University Abu Dhabi and the United Nations Population Division in 2022 in Abu Dhabi.

As a member of our Community of Practice, you will have access to a wide range of benefits, including:

  • Connect and collaborate with colleagues who work on the field of measuring adult mortality data and are excited about innovations.
  • Knowledge-sharing and learning: Access a wealth of resources, including methods, research papers, case studies, and practical experiences and lessons learnt shared by community members. Engage in discussions, ask questions, and learn from the experiences of others.
  • Contribute and lead: As an active member of the community, you will have the opportunity to contribute your insights, share your expertise, and take on leadership roles to shape the direction and activities of the community.

To kick off our Community of Practice, we have lined up a series of engaging activities, including virtual meetups, open webinars, and collaborative projects. We are also planning to invite guest speakers who will share their innovative approaches, experiences gained, and lessons learnt with our community members.

Our Community of Practice will be led by a team of dedicated facilitators who are committed to fostering a positive and inclusive environment for all members. They will be responsible for moderating discussions, organizing events, and facilitating collaborations among members.

Joining our Community of Practice is easy! Simply sign up using the registration form for the kickoff meeting. You will receive a confirmation email with further instructions on how to get started.

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Alex Sila
Petra Nahmias
Chief, Population and Social Statistics Section
Haoyi Chen
UN Statistics Division (UNSD)
Statistics +66 2 288-1234 [email protected]