A comparison of two cause-of-death classification systems for deaths among women of reproductive age in Menoufia, Egypt
Mortality data ascertained from sources other than a death registration system can validate the accuracy of the system, but this information is rarely obtained. Data on 1979 deaths among reproductive age women were collected in the 1981-1983 Reproductive Age Mortality Survey (RAMOS) in the governorate of Menoufia, Egypt, and compared with data on these deaths as recorded by the Egyptian death registration system. Although the distribution of the causes of death were similar, there were substantial differences between classification systems for deaths due to particular causes. Over half of the deaths classified differently by the systems were those assigned to circulatory disease on the death certificate. In contrast, there was a high rate of agreement between systems in the classification of trauma deaths. About half (52.4%) of cancer deaths had the same site-specific cancer diagnosis assigned by RAMOS. The percentage of deaths assigned to maternal causes was three times higher in RAMOS (19.2%) than on death certificates (6.1%). Reported mortality rates for this often-preventable cause of death have been substantially underestimated in national death registration systems. Such underreporting masks the need for additional prenatal care and maternal health programmes.