Life Expectancy at Birth in Rural Areas Based on Corrected Data of the Iranian Vital Horoscope

Article excerpt


Background: Life expectancy at birth as an alternative summary measure of mortality represents number of years which a newborn will be alive based on the current age specific death rates. As it summarizes death rates across all age range in a given population is the most common summary measure of mortality. The aim of this study was to correct death rates for underreport and estimate life expectancy at birth in rural population of Iran in 2008. In addition, this study aimed to assess the Vital Horoscope system's data quality.

Methods: Data were obtained from all Health Houses in Iranian villages in 2008. In order to adjust over 5 years old death rates for underreport, we used Brass Growth Balance method. Since this method is not applicable to under 5 years old, we used child mortality rates projected based on the Iranian Demographic and Health survey 2000 to correct death rates.

Results: Adjusted life expectancy at birth for males was 71.5 year and for females was 74.4 year. Completeness of the death data was 88% for males and 79% for females. Adjusted child (under 5) mortality rate by sex in males and females was 25.9 and 23.8 per 1000 live births respectively. Adult mortality for males was 167.2 and 98.3 for females per 1000.

Conclusion: Data based on Vital Horoscope system are a suitable source to estimate life expectancy and other mortality statistics. Also has an acceptable completeness on death registration. Further studies to investigate accuracy of data from the Vital Horoscope system are suggested.

Keywords: Life expectancy, Birth, Mortality indicators, Vital horoscope system


Health information as the foundation of public health is essential for health planning and priority setting (1- 6). Mortality data are used widely by authorities to monitor and compare health in a population over time and between different populations at the same time (7-10). In fact, mortality pattern is needed in different level from local to global (11). Life expectancy at birth as an alternative summary measure of mortality represents number of years which a newborn can live based on the current age specific death rates (8). It is interpretable by public and policy makers. In addition, it is not dependent on the age structure of a population, so it is widely used (10). There are two methods to estimate life expectancy, direct and indirect methods. When population and mortality data are available, life tables can be constructed and life expectancies can be estimated directly. If not, there are statistical models to estimate these using indirect methods (9).

In Iran, National Organization for Civil Registration (NOCR) is legally responsible for death registration. NOCR which was established in 1918, is in charge of registration vital events including birth, marriage, divorce and death. Ministry of Health and Medical Education (MoH&ME), Deputy of Health operated a national program for death registration science 1999. This program at first initiated in Bushehr province (about 700,000 population) then expanded to the country by the end of 2004 (2, 12).

Other mortality data sources include censuses and surveys. In this way, data on mortality and death will be collected directly (asking about death in the household during a defined recall period for instance the past 12 months). Obviously, underreporting and misreporting of age and sex and especially in adults will threat the data quality (2). Vital Horoscope (VH) also is another system to collect data on population and mortality particularly in rural areas of Iran (12-13).

VH-a facility based data source- has been introduced by MoH&ME from 1988. It is a 50x70 sheet designed to display up to date data on vital events and services provided by health houses during the year (12-14). Community health workers (called BEHVARZ) must fill these papers monthly (15). At the end of the year, they send it to the District Health Center and finally will be sent to Tehran after entering into a defined computer program (14). …


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