HONG KONG - Many people in Africa and Asia are born and die without being registered in official records, leaving countries unable to track and cater to the health needs of their populations, experts say.
In an article in The Lancet, the experts urge governments to collect reliable data for births, deaths and causes of death.
"If vital statistics of births and deaths are combined with data on the cause of death, their usefulness in decision-making is greatly increased," wrote Philip Setel of the University of North Carolina.
Nearly 50million infants in Africa and Asia are not registered each year. Barely a third of countries outside North America and Europe have the capacity to obtain usable mortality statistics, and half the countries in Africa and Southeast Asia record no data on the cause of death.
Calling it a "scandal of invisibility", Setel says poor records over the past 30 years had prevented affordable remedies from being implemented.
Such data is central to policy making, they said, citing how road traffic fatalities up to the 1970s led to laws on speed limits, the use of seat belts and limiting alcohol consumption in developed countries.
Although there are programmes to fight hunger, poverty, mortality and diseases, their effectiveness can only be assessed by reduction of deaths due to specific causes, they argued. - Reuters