“Government needs data on reasons behind deaths to know whether any disease was prevalent and other factors”

Old age cannot be cited as ‘cause of death’ of a person and the authorities concerned have to ensure that family members of the deceased produced a medical certificate from a doctor while applying for death certificate, according to the Health Department.

The birth and death certificates issuing authorities, especially in rural areas, will have to insist on ‘cause of death’ since it is essential for formulating plans by the state and central governments. “We often find that old age is being cited as the reason for death of a person. This is against the rule and hence steps are being taken to train the officials on various important aspects of the Registration of Birth and Deaths Act, 1969,” R.Abdul Kareem, Assistant Director, Public Health, told The Hindu on Thursday.

While the cause of death was recorded and kept confidentially, it will not reflect in the death certificate issued to the family members of the deceased. The village administrative officers (VAOs), who were the certificate-issuing authorities in rural areas, had been instructed about the importance of registering the cause of death.

“The government needs data on reasons behind deaths to know whether any disease was prevalent and other factors. The World Health Organisation also uses this data. Hence, the practcce of mentioning old age as cause of death is not permitted any more,” Dr.Kareem said.

A 120-page manual containing guidelines and format of death and birth certificate has been brought out by the Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Government of Tamil Nadu. It is being distributed to VAOs, police, public health staff, health officials in town panchayats, municipalities and Corporation who are involved in the birth and death registration process.

In Madurai district, birth and death registration process is done in 420 panchayats, nine town panchayats, 51 primary health centres, three municipalities and 100 corporation wards.

The Director of Public Health is the Chief Registrar for births and deaths at the State level, and the District Revenue Officer for the districts. A refresher training programme was conducted for VAOs here on Thursday.

Dr. Kareem said that police personnel have an important role in death registration when dealing with cases such as suicides, murders, and road accidents.

“The objective is to ensure 100 per cent registration of births and deaths with adequate data. We have lined up more refresher courses for health inspectors who coordinate the work in villages,” he added.

S. Senthilkumar, Deputy Director of Health Services, Madurai district, has been monitoring the registration of births and deaths and the 2013-manual of guidelines about the Act will create more awareness,” he said.

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