MJZ: Characteristics of people brought in dead at the Ndola Teaching Hospital in Zambia between 2012 and 2016

24 January, 2020

Dear HIFA-Zambia colleagues,

This paper in the latest issue of the Medical Journal of Zambia finds that cause of death is unknown and/or unrecorded in almost all (96.75%) people who are brought in dead to a university teaching hospital. The remainder (2.35%) are reorted to have died from road traffic accidents.

CITATION: Characteristics of people brought in dead at the Ndola Teaching Hospital in Zambia between 2012 and 2016

S Hachizovu, M Chaponda, A Makupe, C Manyando, D Mubikayi, M Mulenga

Vol 46, No 3 (2019)



Background: Death is the end spectrum of everyone's life. From a policy maker's point of view, the cause of death and the place of death are important variables as they have a bearing on the diagnostic capacity of a health system and the level of health services utilization by a population respectively. A study done in Zambia showed that 51 per cent of the adult deaths occurred in a health facility, 41.5% occurred at home and 7.7% happened elsewhere. This finding contrasted those of a systematic review of statistics on cause of deaths in hospitals: strengthening the evidence for policy makers by the WHO which reported that more than 50% of deaths in most developing countries occur outside hospitals. It is common to see people brought in dead (BID) in hospitals in Zambia. A literature review showed that no study has been done to characterize the people who are brought into health facilities already dead in Zambia. Our study proposes to collect the age and sex distribution of the people brought in dead, as well as their area of residence and cause of death as is captured in the registers.


1. To describe the sex and age distribution of the people brought in dead in Ndola Teaching Hospital

2. To determine the areas of residence of these cases

3. To establish the causes of death for these cases of BID

4. To assess the completeness of the information recorded in the register

Methods: This study was done at the Ndola Teaching Hospital in the Copper-belt province of Zambia. It was a cross sectional, retrospective record review of the mortuary registers where all people brought in dead or dying within 24 hours of admission to Ndola Teaching Hospital are recorded. All cases of BIDs recorded in the Mortuary registers of Ndola Teaching Hospital between 2012 and 2016 were eligible. The age, sex, area of residence and the recorded cause of death were entered on a standardized form designed for the study. The data was entered on an excel sheet and double checked for completeness. It was then analyzed using excel

Results: There were 6931 cases of brought in dead at the Ndola Teaching Hospital between 2012 and 2016 with the average number of 1386 cases per year. The age group affected most was 24-55 years (60.34%), mainly comprised of males (61.81%) and coming from densely populated areas (81.50%). 96.75% of cases had undetermined mode of death while 2.35% of cases died of road traffic accidents

Conclusion: A big number of people are still dying outside health facilities or within 24 hours of admission to hospitals in Zambia today. The most affected group is males in their most productive period of their lives and mainly residing in densely populated areas. Additionally, our data capturing tools are not adequate and need revision.

Best wishes, neil

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HIFA-Zambia profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is the coordinator of HIFA-Zambia and the HIFA campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ). Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org