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Institute for International Programs

Cameroon | Verbal Autopsy and Social Autopsy Studies (VASA)

The VASA study in Cameroon was conducted on the platform of a 17,000 households survey conducted by Population Services International (PSI) in August-October 2010 to evaluate the impact of its DFATD-supported Home-Based Management of Malaria project on child mortality in the Eastern Region’s Doume, Nguelemendouka and Abong-Mbang districts. This survey had identified deaths of children up to 59 months of age in the prior 10 years from a full birth history of all women age 15-49 years. Following completion of the mortality survey, the National Statistics Institute (INS) of Cameroon conducted the VASA study with technical support from JHSPH.

The VASA interviewers returned to households where a death was determined to have occurred in the prior 4 years to conduct the VASA interviews. The VASA study aimed to provide estimates of the proportions of deaths due to important causes such as birth asphyxia, preterm delivery and serious infection for neonates, and malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia for young children, and also examined relevant behavioral and social factors affecting families’ careseeking and the care given by formal heath care providers, including CHWs, for these illnesses. Health programmers can use this information to help shape and improve interventions aimed at particular causes of death, such as the community case management efforts aimed at malaria and possibly pneumonia. The VASA study had the following specific objectives;

  1. Estimate the cause distributions of death, separately for neonates (0-27 days old) and young children (1-59 months old), in Doume, Nguelemendouka and Abong-Mbang districts, Cameroon;
  2. Estimate the proportions of deaths, by cause, of neonates and young children that occur in health facilities  in Doume, Nguelemendouka and Abong-Mbang districts, Cameroon; and
  3. Estimate the prevalence of social factors contributing to deaths of neonates and young children in Doume, Nguelemendouka and Abong-Mbang districts, Cameroon.

In total, out of 990 neonatal and child deaths selected for the VASA study, 835 were able to be successfully interviewed. Three quarters (75.5%) of respondents were mothers of the deceased children. There were 36 cases of stillbirths, 164 neonatal deaths, and 635 child deaths (1 – 59 months). The education level of both parents was generally poor, with the majority of the mothers not having completed primary education. The main causes of neonatal deaths were identified as birth asphyxia and/or birth injury, followed by sepsis, pneumonia and preterm delivery. For children 1-59 months, the main causes of death were diarrhea, malaria , pneumonia  and meningitis. Detailed findings, conclusions and recommendations can be found in the study report.

Améliorer les estimations des causes et facteurs qui contribuent a la mortalité néonatale et de l’enfant au Cameroun- enquête d’autopsie verbale/ sociale dans les districts de Nguelemendouka, Doume et Abong-Mbang
Abstract | Full report


Sociodemographic, behavioral, and environmental factors of child mortality in Eastern Region of Cameroon: results from a social autopsy study. Koffi AK, Wounang RS, Nguefack F, Moluh S, Libite PR, Kalter HD. J Glob Health. 2017. doi: 10.7189/jogh.07.010601.

Social autopsy study identifies determinants of neonatal mortality in Doume, Nguelemendouka and Abong–Mbang health districts, eastern region of Cameroon. Koffi AK, Libite PR, Moluh S, Wounang R, Kalter HD. JOGH. 2015. doi: 10.7189/jogh.05.010413