REVIEW – July 2006

The mortality register of Estonia: its formation and utilization of data for research


Articles PDF


The death register at the Statistical Office of Estonia was created as a result of determined efforts (starting at the beginning of the 1990s) supported by the Ministers of Health Laur Karu and Andres Ellamaa, and a collaboration between the Statistical Office of Estonia and the Institute of Experimental and Clinical Medicine (currently the National Institute for Health Development). The register, containing individual data of death cases from 1983 to 2002, is suitable for epidemiological studies and is extremely important for the Republic of Estonia. In countries where the legislative body has understood the importance of statistical and scientific studies, where public health research is taking place, and where knowledge-based decisions are made, a death register is regarded as one of the main national registers. If a country has not established any medical register due to poverty or negligence, it still tries to keep a death register. Unfortunately, the Estonian Personal Data Protection Acts (1996, 2003) make it difficult, if not impossible, to use sensitive data for the purposes of statistics, historical and statistical research, preventive medicine, and management of health-care services, which are called for in the European Directive 95/46/EC. Generating mistrust in the society will eventually lead to a gradual deterioration of health sciences in Estonia.