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Open Access An electronic register for vital registration in a rural village with no electricity in Malawi

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Setting: Chalasa village, Traditional Authority Mtema, Lilongwe District, Malawi.

Objectives: To report on the deployment of an electronic register in a rural village with no electricity. Specific objectives were to document 1) challenges in setting up the electronic village register (EVR); 2) demographics of village residents, along with births and deaths over three quarters; and 3) the costs of setting up the system.

Design: A descriptive study.

Results: The main challenges were slow adoption of the EVR by the village headman, lack of health passports for village residents, double counting of some residents and difficult connectivity. These challenges were overcome. In terms of data, of 790 village residents, 379 (48%) were male, 417 (53%) were aged <15 years and 29 (3.6%) ≥65 years. From April to December 2013, there were 18 births and 5 deaths. The cost of the EVR, including maintenance costs for 12 months, was US$6210.

Conclusion: An EVR was successfully deployed in Chalasa village, rural Malawi, and data on the resident village population, along with quarterly births and deaths, are now available. This is the first step towards a village-level civil registration system in rural Africa.
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Keywords: Malawi; electronic village register; rural Africa; vital registration

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Baobab Health Trust, Lilongwe, Malawi 2: Center for Health Informatics for the Underserved, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA 3: International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Paris, France, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK 4: Central Monitoring and Evaluation Division, Ministry of Health, Lilongwe 5: Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Lilongwe 6: National Registration Bureau, Office of the President and Cabinet, Lilongwe, Malawi

Publication date: September 21, 2014

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  • Public Health Action (PHA), The Union's quarterly open access on-line journal, provides a platform for its mission 'Health solutions for the poor'. PHA addresses the need for show-casing operational research that addresses issues in health systems and services. It publishes high-quality scientific research that provides new knowledge to improve access, equity, quality and efficiency of health systems and services.

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