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Our Mission        To Improve the Efficacy,
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Dr. Mahapatra expalins COD forms at the DCO's training programme          at Chennai
Dr. Mahapatra trained the Director of Census Operations (DCO's) about the new Verbal Autopsy (VA) manual. He mentioned the importance and role of VA, and described in detail the VA forms 10B and 10C. Dr. Mahapatra compared general autopsy with VA to explain the concept. He said that general autopsy is done with a knife, wherein the patient's body is cut open to know more about the cause of death. However, in the case of VA, "verbs" are used to investigate the cause of death, since the patient's body is no longer present. In VA, the train of events before the death of the patient are investigated verbally. Therefore, we are cutting open the events retrospectively.

General autopsy is a collaborative procedure in which the pathologist, the specialist, along with PG Medical students study the patient's body. Many times a forensic expert is involved if the case is a medico-legal one. Similarly, VA is also a collaborative procedure. This is because the person whose cause of death is being investigated is not present, but we are collaborating with the relatives or persons who know about the events before the death of the patient.

While discussing about the forms, Dr. Mahapatra said that cultural practices should be considered very strongly. Citing an example, he stated that in some communities, the cultural practices would classify pregnant women as (a) pre term (b) full term, or (c) delayed. Some other communities would be able to clearly state the number of months a woman was pregnant when she died. Drawing more attention to the varying cultural practices, Dr. Mahapatra also cited the difference in institutional deliveries in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh states. While institutional deliveries had gone up in Andhra Pradesh to nearly 50%, they had not gone up as much in Orissa.

Dr. Mahapatra said that SRS had taken a very good step to validate the VA forms, citing the 10% quality check that is conducted by independent agencies. He highlighted the important role played by the part-time enumerators and surveyors. He explained that RGI surveyors should not concentrate on the cause of death. They should rather concentrate on the "symptoms list" and mention only the symptoms, he stated.

IHS Faculty, Ms. Srilatha Sivalenka participates in Hands-On session
Ms. Srilatha Sivalenka, IHS Faculty, participated in the Hands-On session at the DCO’s Orientation Training Programme held in Chennai on 29/11/02. In this session, few good and bad VA forms were examined. The following aspects were studied:
  • What are the constituents of an ideal VA form?
  • What are the common coding problems encountered in a bad VA form?
  • How should the VA narration be?

Ms. Srilatha along with Dr. Srividya from TIFR, Mumbai, demonstrated a mock VA interview. Ms. Srilatha played the role of respondent. 

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