A new World Health Organization (WHO) Mortality Database Visualization Portal has been released, reflecting key updates to modernize the user interface that brings unparalleled insight, accessibility and relevance to seven decades of mortality data for policy makers and the public.
For more than a century, global statistics on mortality and causes of death have been crucial for tracking the impact of disease on population health and measuring the effectiveness of health programs and interventions in saving lives. . Estimates of excess COVID-19 mortality are a stark reminder of the importance of understanding exactly how many people are dying and from what cause.
Since its inception in 1948, the WHO has required all Member States to report mortality data and has collected this information in the WHO Mortality Database. Today, this unique database is the oldest and largest of its kind, containing data from more than 120 countries and regions by cause, year, sex and age.
The portal is an important step in ensuring that mortality data is used to drive impact in countries. Among other features, users can now filter and compare information by disease category or age group. They can also use interactive visualizations to view data by number of deaths, death rate per 100,000, or as a percentage of total deaths.
By clearly illustrating gaps and trends, the database also allows users to identify how countries are performing in terms of inequality over time. This provides powerful information to guide policies that reduce health disparities both within and between countries.
“The WHO Mortality Database Visualization Portal comes at a time when the world urgently needs better access to reliable, timely and transparent mortality data,” says Dr Samira Asma , Assistant Director General for Data, Analytics and Delivery at WHO. “We urge all stakeholders to use this portal to improve policy design and prevent premature deaths.”
Currently, the portal contains data representing 36% of all deaths worldwide, with a range of 90% for US and European regions to less than 10% for African and Southeast Asian regions. Global initiatives are underway to help countries improve their civil registration and vital statistics systems as the key to generating accurate and timely cause of death information.
“By investing in modern and sustainable health information systems, we can fill critical gaps and improve cause of death reporting in line with international classification standards,” adds Steve MacFeely, Chief Data and Analytics Officer. at the WHO. “This is crucial to accurately tracking progress towards the WHO’s triple billion targets and the Sustainable Development Goals.”
As of April 2022, data on causes of death are presented using the 10th version of the International Classification of Diseases. However, efforts are underway to transition to ICD-11, which entered into force on January 1, 2022, as agreed by all Member States at the 72nd World Health Assembly in 2019.
WHO Mortality Database Visualization Portal
Visual summary of the WHO Mortality Database
WHO Mortality Database Webpage