Million Death Study (MDS)

The Million Death Study (MDS) is one of the largest studies of premature mortality in the world. The MDS is an ongoing study that is conducted in India, where, like most low- and middle-income countries, the majority of deaths occur at home and without medical attention. As a result, the majority of global deaths do not have a certified cause.

In collaboration with the Registrar General of India, the MDS monitored nearly 14 million people in 2.4 million nationally representative households in India between 1998-2014. Any deaths that occur in these households during this period will be assigned a probable cause, as determined by a method called verbal autopsy.

The MDS results have already influenced priority setting within India, changed global estimates of disease burdens, and spurred much new research on avoidable causes of death.  The MDS also serves as a globally-relevant model for nationwide mortality studies which are now underway in Africa and Asia.