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March 31, 1945

Vital Statistics and Public Health Work in the Tropics

JAMA. 1945;127(13):879. doi:10.1001/jama.1945.02860130139023

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This little volume is packed full of valuable practical information for the physician and sanitarian in tropical countries. It is not a mathematical treatise with involved formulas which only an expert biometrician can utilize but an introduction to "human bookkeeping," with innumerable illustrations showing the pitfalls in the collection and interpretation of statistical data. In each of the fifteen chapters there is a straightforward statement of what the author is endeavoring to present, followed by detailed examples. Time and again reference is made to the pioneer worker in British vital statistics, the haberdasher John Graunt (1620-1674), and to the first interpreter of registration data of England and Wales, Dr. William Farr (1807-1883). The author shows how census and medical statistics differ in their purpose and states the minimum requirements for the collection of crude statistics on population, marriage, births and deaths. He indicates, however, that these are not sufficient for

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