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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 511-512
Census: A systematic and comprehensive tool to address the needs of the disadvantaged population groups

Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India

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Date of Web Publication21-Aug-2017

How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Census: A systematic and comprehensive tool to address the needs of the disadvantaged population groups. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2017;10:511-2

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Census: A systematic and comprehensive tool to address the needs of the disadvantaged population groups. Ann Trop Med Public Health [serial online] 2017 [cited 2021 Mar 8];10:511-2. Available from:
In the public health arena, it is very important to acknowledge that if people are not counted, they are deprived of the basic health care and welfare services.[1] In fact, data and their interpretation are crucial to end inequalities, reach the disadvantaged group of people, and ensure a dignified life for all irrespective of any determinant.[1] Even though, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are formulated on the assumption that each nation should identify and mark the most vulnerable population groups, close to 110 nations still do not have reliable vital statistics estimates.[1] In order to bridge this gap and to move forward toward the accomplishment of different SDGs, conducting a national census in an organized and standardized manner to enable international comparison is one of the most crucial duties of the national program managers.[1],[2]

The census is a systematic process of periodic collection and recording of information about the members of a population residing in a well-defined area.[1] It has been recommended to conduct census after every 10 years and is a vital source of information to understand disparities in different health or welfare indicators.[1],[3],[4] In other words, the data obtained through census are critical for the development of a population as it provides evidence to the policy makers to enable the investment of resources for the upliftment of the disadvantaged or lagging members of a population.[2],[3],[4]

The best part of the census is its comprehensive nature of the estimates as it covers even the smallest geographical unit of a nation.[1] Apart from providing information about different development indices (viz., assessment of demographic trends, analysis of socioeconomic conditions, formulation of evidence-based poverty-reduction strategies, evaluation of the effectiveness of policies, measuring the progress toward development goals, and the like), containment of the infectious diseases, it even acts as an important tool to ascertain different types of exclusions faced by different population groups (such as inequalities with regard to sex or race or ethnicity or religion or socioeconomic status or disadvantaged population group)[1],[2],[3],[4],[5] Furthermore, the findings of the census can even be used for the empowerment of the local communities, as it gives people an opportunity to involve themselves in the local decision-making and ensure that their opinions are considered in all issues that are essential for their welfare.[1],[3],[5]

However, owing to the fact that conduction of census is an expensive affair that involves an investment of huge amounts of time and human resources; many nations are still not in a state to execute it in a standardized manner.[1] Thus, most of the nation is still having an outdated or inaccurate data about their populations and most of the national policies are based on hypothetical estimates with no scientific rationale to support them.[1]

As a matter of fact, no comprehensive census activity was undertaken in Myanmar since the early 1980s of the 19th century, and some of the population divisions of the nation have never been counted.[1] Realizing the dearth of information from the different parts of the nation, the United Nations Population Fund in collaboration with the national authorities conducted a census in the region in 2014 after reaching out to local authorities and developing trust among the officials and the local population by explaining them its utility and the advantages attributed to the comprehensive estimates.[1] Eventually, the findings of the recently conducted census have played a crucial role in the development process, empowerment of the local community, and in ensuring peace in the division.[1]

To conclude, the census is an important tool for the policy makers to plan development of the nation and its residents. Thus, the onus lies on the national stakeholders to conduct it in a systematic manner periodically and use the obtained information for addressing the inequalities and the welfare of the disadvantaged population groups.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

UNFPA. Census reaches vulnerable women and girls in a remote area of Myanmar for the very first time; 2016. Available from: first-time. [Last accessed on 2016 July 17].  Back to cited text no. 1
Biro S, Williamson T, Leggett JA, Barber D, Morkem R, Moore K. et al. Utility of linking primary care electronic medical records with Canadian census data to study the determinants of chronic disease: An example based on socioeconomic status and obesity. BMC Med Inform Decis Mak 2016;16:32.  Back to cited text no. 2
Banda R, Fylkesnes K, Sandøy IF. Rural-urban differentials in pregnancy-related mortality in Zambia: Estimates using data collected in a census. Popul Health Metr 2015;13:32.  Back to cited text no. 3
Ribeiro O, Teixeira L, Araújo L, Paúl C. Health profile of centenarians in Portugal: A census-based approach. Popul Health Metr 2016;14:13.  Back to cited text no. 4
Ruktanonchai NW, Bhavnani D, Sorichetta A, Bengtsson L, Carter KH, Córdoba RC. et al. Census-derived migration data as a tool for informing malaria elimination policy. Malar J 2016;15:273.  Back to cited text no. 5

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh R Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, 3rd Floor, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur, Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1755-6783.213163

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