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Quantification of deaths and establishing causes of deaths in communities has been shown to perform well through the use of verbal autopsy methods.

However, like many LMIC, Tanzania lacks a comprehensive vital registration system and hence is unable to produce nationally representative annual estimates of key demographic variables including mortality rates and causes.

The FBIS (Facility-Based Information System) collects routine national health management information system data.

Figure 1 shows the geographical location of the 23 districts and the governance structure.

Overall, implementation of the SPD is led by IHI with support from NBS and NIMR and in close consultation with MOHSW.

SAVVY started with baseline enumeration censuses in March 2011 and continued in phases until it reached the full scale of all 23 districts in March 2014.

Continuous monitoring of vital events and conducting verbal autopsy (VA) interviews in enumeration areas began shortly after commencement of baseline censuses and is done prospectively.

SPD covers a total of 23 nationally representative districts of the Mainland Tanzania and is implemented through two arms: the Facility-Based Information System (FBIS) and the SAmple Vital registration with Verbal autops Y (SAVVY).

Tanzania’s NBS selected the districts primarily for use in implementing the SAVVY arm.

The SPD is also designed with the intention to provide rapid-response enquiries into implementation status and effectiveness of specific policy initiatives including health system reforms.

Last, the SPD offers the opportunity for fundamental and operational research, including research on social determinants of health and equity analyses.

Additional information about the design of the SPD is available online: access to some of SPD’s aggregate data can be requested by sending an e-mail to [[email protected]].

Each arm of the SPD has obtained its own ethical approval.

To provide a sustainable source of reliable nationally representative data on demographic, population health and health systems indicators, Ifakara Health Institute (IHI) in collaboration with the Tanzanian National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the Tanzanian National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) created a new initiative called the Sentinel Panel of Districts (SPD).

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