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Research, Maternal, Child and Reproductive Health

A Technique Developed by ISGlobal is the Cornerstone of a New Global Surveillance Alliance on Causes of Death

The alliance, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will improve the quality of data on causes of death in low-income countries


 Knowing what people die from in low-resource countries is one of the key questions in global health. Since 2013, a team from  ISGlobal - an instittution supported by "la Caixa" Foundation- led by Jaume Ordi, Clara Menéndez and Quique Bassat, has developed and validated the minimally invasive autopsy technique, a promising tool to determine cause of death with almost the same precision and reliability than the complete autopsy. Over the past years, a growing number of institutions and countries have expressed their interest in using this technique. A new global surveillance alliance, the MITS Alliance, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was launched today in Barcelona with the goal of improving cause of death data in low-income countries.

Minimally Invasive Tissue Sampling (MITS) is a technique that consists in using very fine needles to recover tissue samples from different organs, and analysing such tissues through anatamopathological and microbiological techniques, thus allowing an accurate establishment of the cause of death. In contrast to the complete autopsy, MITS can be performed by specially trained technicians and with limited infrastructure. The technique was developed through the CADMIA and CADMIA-plus projects, set the basis for CHAMPS, a global child mortality prevention and surveillance network, and has now become the cornerstone of this new pathology-based surveillance alliance.

“The minimally invasive autopsy can radically change our knowledge of the causes of death and thereby change our global health priorities,” declare project leaders Ordi, Menendez and Bassat.

“The Alliance was formed to support the continued expansion of pathology-based surveillance and promote the utilization of MITS to better understand causes of death in various populations and geographies”, said Kathy Banke, program officer at Gates Foundation. 

The Executive Committee of this new alliance is coordinated by  RTI International and formed by ISGlobal, the Gates Foundation and the CHAMPS network.