This side-event was organized by ESCAP. It took place online on 9 November 2021, from 12:00 to 13:30 hrs, Bangkok time.
The current pandemic has put mortality statistics at the center of attention. Daily reports of the number of deaths due to COVID-19 have been a critical tool of governance and have played a major role in public debate. This scrutiny has made visible shortcomings in cause of death and overall mortality monitoring that most countries still experience. The true toll of the pandemic and the consequences of these shortcomings in the monitoring tools are still to be measured, but the importance of addressing them so that every death is registered is undeniable.
While estimates of the number of births that are not registered globally have been published by UNICEF, the literature on similar estimates for unregistered deaths is limited. Recent debates and studies have mostly focused on COVID-19 related deaths and not on overall death registration. ESCAP has therefore tried to develop an estimate of unregistered deaths for the Asia and the Pacific region. The study conducted based on publicly available data found that 7.8 million deaths were still not registered in 2018 in the region. This important blind spot has detrimental consequences for the current crisis, but also for future ones and for overall public governance. Further identifying where these ‘invisible’ deaths occur and who are the ones not counted is necessary to achieve universal registration.
At the midpoint of the Asia and Pacific Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Decade, the results of this study highlight the progresses made both in data availability and in registration completeness, as well as the challenges remaining in those aspects.
This side-event was based on a Stats Brief published by ESCAP. It was independent from the midterm review of the implementation of the Regional Action Framework for CRVS in Asia and the Pacific since it used different data sources for most countries. As a result, it covered all countries in the region, including countries that have not answered the midterm questionnaire on the implementation of the Regional Action Framework.