In July 2015, north Pacific Countries, Territories and States came together in Guam to undertake 2 weeks of intensive training in data analysis and report writing for vital statistics. The course was attended by representatives from Health and Statistics offices from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Federated States of Micronesia (including state representatives from Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap), Palau, and Republic of the Marshall Islands with teams working together at a state or national level. The training was run by SPC in collaboration with Brisbane Accord Group partners from the World Health Organisation and the Australian Bureau of Statistics, with additional support from the Pacific Island Health Officers Association.
Vital statistics, the information on births and deaths in a community, is essential for planning government services, identifying and monitoring health issues, and protecting human rights. In the past however, many countries have not been able to collect this data on a routine basis, and as a result have relied heavily on international estimates.
Over the last few years, Pacific Countries and Territories have been working on improving the routine collection of data on births, deaths, and causes of death through their health information and civil registration systems under the Pacific Vital Statistics Action Plan. They have also more recently made commitments under the Asia-Pacific Regional Action Framework to improve systems and make data more available. While there is still a lot to be done, the Pacific has embraced the official UN Decade for CRVS and is making good progress. Improving capacity in analysis and reporting is an essential part of ensuring that these system improvements are subsequently reflected in better access to and quality of vital statistics data for planning.
Each team at the workshop brought with them at least three years of data on births, deaths and causes of death from their routine health or civil registry collections and undertook an extensive process of data cleaning, tabulation and analysis to produce key indicators of fertility and mortality. As a result of this exercise, several countries have been able to measure key health issues of interest, such as high teenage fertility rates and early mortality due to NCDs. They have also identified a number of system issues, such as the under-reporting of early neonatal deaths, as a result of the data analysis.