Emerging chronic non-communicable diseases in rural communities of Northern Ethiopia: evidence using population-based verbal autopsy method in Kilite Awlaelo surveillance site

Health Policy Plan. 2013 Dec;28(8):891-8. doi: 10.1093/heapol/czs135. Epub 2013 Jan 4.


Introduction: In countries where most deaths are outside health institutions and medical certification of death is absent, verbal autopsy (VA) method is used to estimate population level causes of death.

Methods: VA data were collected by trained lay interviewers for 409 deaths in the surveillance site. Two physicians independently assigned cause of death using the International Classification of Diseases manual.

Results: In general, infectious and parasitic diseases accounted for 35.9% of death, external causes 15.9%, diseases of the circulatory system 13.4% and perinatal causes 12.5% of total deaths. Mortalities attributed to maternal causes and malnutrition were low, 0.2 and 1.5%, respectively. Causes of death varied by age category. About 22.1, 12.6 and 8.4% of all deaths of under 5-year-old children were due to bacterial sepsis of the newborn, acute lower respiratory infections such as neonatal pneumonia and prematurity including respiratory distress, respectively. For 5-15-year-old children, accidental drowning and submersion, accounting for 34.4% of all deaths in this age category, and accidental fall, accounting for 18.8%, were leading causes of death. Among 15-49-year-old adults, HIV/AIDS (16.3%) and tuberculosis (12.8%) were commonest causes of death, whereas tuberculosis and cerebrovascular diseases were major killers of those aged 50 years and above.

Conclusion: In the rural district, mortality due to chronic non-communicable diseases was very high. The observed magnitude of death from chronic non-communicable disease is unlikely to be unique to this district. Thus, formulation of chronic disease prevention and control strategies is recommended.

Keywords: Ethiopia; HDSS; Verbal autopsy; non-communicable diseases; physician review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Autopsy*
  • Cause of Death
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease / mortality*
  • Ethiopia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Rural Population*
  • Young Adult