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Verbal autopsies shed light on death

 14 million verbal autopsies shed light on death


People call Prabhat Jha "Dr. Death" because of his passion for collecting information on why people die in developing countries.  He says he's goal is to reduce premature death as much as possible.

Scientists say the death toll in the developing world totals around 46 million each year, and for the great majority of them, nobody really knows the cause.

Since most occur at home, there's rarely a certified cause. So in India, where nine-million die annually, they're engaged in one of the largest investigations of human mortality ever attempted. 

It's called The Million Death Study, and it's been going on for the past 14 years. 

When it ends two years from now, scientists will have tracked nearly 14 million people, employing a technique called the verbal autopsy. 

Renowned Canadian epidemiologist Prabhat Jha leads the study, from the Centre for Global Health Research at the University of Toronto.

Listen to Prabhat's talk with Rick

The March 15 Dispatches program

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