Causes of adult female deaths in Bangladesh: findings from two National SurveysReport as inadecuate

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BMC Public Health

, 15:911

First Online: 18 September 2015Received: 29 January 2015Accepted: 11 September 2015DOI: 10.1186-s12889-015-2256-6

Cite this article as: Nahar, Q., Arifeen, S.E., Jamil, K. et al. BMC Public Health 2015 15: 911. doi:10.1186-s12889-015-2256-6


BackgroundAssessment of causes of death and changes in pattern of causes of death over time are needed for programmatic purposes. Limited national level data exist on the adult female causes of death in Bangladesh.

MethodUsing data from two nationally representation surveys, the 2001 and 2010 Bangladesh Maternal Mortality Surveys BMMS, the paper examines the causes of adult female death, aged 15–49 years, and changes in the patterns of these deaths. In both surveys, all household deaths three years prior to the survey were identified. Adult female deaths were then followed by a verbal autopsy VA using the WHO structured questionnaire. Two physicians independently reviewed the VA forms to assign a cause of death using the ICD-10; in case of disagreement, a third physician made an independent review and assigned a cause of death.

ResultsThe overall mortality rates for women aged 15–49 in 2001 and 2010 were 182 per 100,000 and 120 per 100,000 respectively. There is a shift in the pattern of causes of death during the period covered by the two surveys. In the 2001 survey, the main causes of death were maternal 20 %, followed by diseases of the circulatory system 15 %, malignancy 14 % and infectious diseases 13 %. However, in the 2010 survey, malignancies were the leading cause 21 %, followed by diseases of the circulatory system 16 %, maternal causes 14 % and infectious diseases 8 %. While maternal deaths remained the number one cause of death among 20–34 years old in both surveys, unnatural deaths were the main cause for teenage deaths, and malignancies were the main cause of death for older women. Although there is an increasing trend in the proportion of women who died in hospitals, in both surveys most women died at home 74 % in 2001 and 62 % in 2010.

ConclusionThe shift in the pattern of causes of adult female deaths is in agreement with the overall change in the disease pattern from communicable to non-communicable diseases in Bangladesh. Suicide and other violent deaths as the primary cause of deaths among teenage girls demands specific interventions to prevent such premature deaths. Prevention of deaths due to non-communicable diseases should also be a priority.

KeywordsAdult female mortality Causes of death Verbal autopsy BMMS Bangladesh NCD AbbreviationsBBSBangladesh Bureau of Statistics

BMMSBangladesh Maternal Mortality Surveys

CDsCommunicable diseases

ICD-10The International Classification of Diseases- 10 revision

HPNDSPHealth Population and Nutrition Sector Development Program

MDGMillennium Development Goal

MMRMaternal mortality ratios

NCDsNon-communicable diseases

SVRSSample Vital Registration System

VAVerbal autopsy

WHOWorld Health Organization

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Author: Quamrun Nahar - Shams El Arifeen - Kanta Jamil - Peter Kim Streatfield


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