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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Establishing a health demographic surveillance site in Bhaktapur district, Nepal: initial experiences and findings

Umesh Raj Aryal12, Abhinav Vaidya12, Suraj Shakya-Vaidya23, Max Petzold24 and Alexandra Krettek25*

Author Affiliations

1 Dept of Community Medicine, Kathmandu Medical College, Kathmandu, Sinamangal, Nepal

2 Nordic School of Public Health NHV, Box 12133, 402 42, Gothenburg, Sweden

3 Department of Ophthalmology, Nepal Medical College, Kathmandu, Jorpati, Nepal

4 Center for Applied Biostatistics, Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden

5 Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:489  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-489

Published: 5 September 2012



A health demographic surveillance system (HDSS) provides longitudinal data regarding health and demography in countries with coverage error and poor quality data on vital registration systems due to lack of public awareness, inadequate legal basis and limited use of data in health planning. The health system in Nepal, a low-income country, does not focus primarily on health registration, and does not conduct regular health data collection. This study aimed to initiate and establish the first HDSS in Nepal.


We conducted a baseline survey in Jhaukhel and Duwakot, two villages in Bhaktapur district. The study surveyed 2,712 households comprising a total population of 13,669. The sex ratio in the study area was 101 males per 100 females and the average household size was 5. The crude birth and death rates were 9.7 and 3.9/1,000 population/year, respectively. About 11% of births occurred at home, and we found no mortality in infants and children less than 5 years of age. Various health problems were found commonly and some of them include respiratory problems (41.9%); headache, vertigo and dizziness (16.7%); bone and joint pain (14.4%); gastrointestinal problems (13.9%); heart disease, including hypertension (8.8%); accidents and injuries (2.9%); and diabetes mellitus (2.6%). The prevalence of non-communicable disease (NCD) was 4.3% (95% CI: 3.83; 4.86) among individuals older than 30 years. Age-adjusted odds ratios showed that risk factors, such as sex, ethnic group, occupation and education, associated with NCD.


Our baseline survey demonstrated that it is possible to collect accurate and reliable data in a village setting in Nepal, and this study successfully established an HDSS site. We determined that both maternal and child health are better in the surveillance site compared to the entire country. Risk factors associated with NCDs dominated morbidity and mortality patterns.