BACKGROUND: The limited availability of maternal and child health data has limited progress in reducing mortality and morbidity among pregnant women and children. Global health agencies, leaders, and funders are prioritizing strategies that focus on acquiring high quality health data. Electronic maternal and child health registries (eRegistries) offer a systematic data collection and management approach that can serve as an entry point for preventive, curative and promotive health services. Due to the highly sensitive nature of reproductive health information, careful consideration must be accorded to privacy, access, and data security. In the third paper of the eRegistries Series, we report on the current landscape of ethical and legal governance for maternal and child health registries in developing countries.
METHODS:This research utilizes findings from two web-based surveys, completed in 2015 that targeted public health officials and health care providers in 76 countries with high global maternal and child mortality burden. A sample of 298 public health officials from 64 countries and 490 health care providers from 59 countries completed the online survey. Based on formative research in the development of the eRegistries Governance Guidance Toolkit, the surveys were designed to investigate topics related to maternal and child health registries including ethical and legal issues.
RESULTS: According to survey respondents, the prevailing legal landscape is characterized by inadequate data security safeguards and weak support for core privacy principles. Respondents from the majority of countries indicated that health information from medical records is typically protected by legislation although legislation dealing specifically or comprehensively with data privacy may not be in place. Health care provider trust in the privacy of health data at their own facilities is associated with the presence of security safeguards.
CONCLUSION: Addressing legal requirements and ensuring that privacy and data security of women's and children's health information is protected is an ethical responsibility that must not be ignored or postponed, particularly where the need is greatest. Not only are the potential harm and unintended consequences of inaction serious for individuals, but they could impact public trust in health registries leading to decreased participation and compromised data integrity.
KEYWORDS: Data privacy; Ethics; Governance; Law; Maternal and child health; Registry; Security
BACKGROUND: To reduce the burden of 5.3 million stillbirths and neonatal deaths annually, an understanding of causes of deaths is critical. A systematic review identified 81 systems for classification of causes of stillbirth (SB) and neonatal death (NND) between 2009 and 2014. The large number of systems hampers efforts to understand and prevent these deaths. This study aimed to assess the alignment of current classification systems with expert-identified characteristics for a globally effective classification system.
METHODS:Eighty-one classification systems were assessed for alignment with 17 characteristics previously identified through expert consensus as necessary for an effective global system. Data were extracted independently by two authors. Systems were assessed against each characteristic and weighted and unweighted scores assigned to each. Subgroup analyses were undertaken by system use, setting, type of death included and type of characteristic.
RESULTS: None of the 81 systems were aligned with more than 9 of the 17 characteristics; most (82 %) were aligned with four or fewer. On average, systems were aligned with 19 % of characteristics. The most aligned system (Frøen 2009-Codac) still had an unweighted score of only 9/17. Alignment with individual characteristics ranged from 0 to 49 %. Alignment was somewhat higher for widely used as compared to less used systems (22 % v 17 %), systems used only in high income countries as compared to only in low and middle income countries (20 % vs 16 %), and systems including both SB and NND (23 %) as compared to NND-only (15 %) and SB-only systems (13 %). Alignment was higher with characteristics assessing structure (23 %) than function (15 %).
CONCLUSIONS: There is an unmet need for a system exhibiting all the characteristics of a globally effective system as defined by experts in the use of systems, as none of the 81 contemporary classification systems assessed was highly aligned with these characteristics. A particular concern in terms of global effectiveness is the lack of alignment with "ease of use" among all systems, including even the most-aligned. A system which meets the needs of users would have the potential to become the first truly globally effective classification system.
KEYWORDS: Cause; Classification; Classification system; Neonatal death; Perinatal death; Stillbirth
This article is part of a mini-series on World Health Organization (WHO) application of ICD-10 to deaths during the perinatal period: ICD-PM.
In global health monitoring mechanisms, perinatal deaths have long been largely invisible and poorly counted. Millions of stillbirths occur annually unrecognised by death certification, or vital classifications.In addition to this, neonatal deaths contribute an enormous burden to mortality in the under-5s. The outcomes of both of these groups are linked with care around the time of childbirth, and by extension, condition and care of the mother. Advancing progress on perinatal mortality therefore requires us to embrace a unifying perinatal death classification system that recognises stillbirths and neonatal deaths together with the contributing maternal conditions in these cases. Accurately capturing and classifying the causes of these deaths across the globe will lead to better identification of trends, gaps and efforts for prevention and management of conditions.