The Centre for Operational Research in Public Health (CORPH) was established in 1991 as an initiative taken by the Flemish and French Communities to support the health policy-making process. The purpose of the CORPH is to optimize access to health information based on sources that already exist and/or still have to be created, which permits to measure and to follow up the health status of the Belgian population.
The principal objective of SPMA is to facilitate the use of vital statistical data for public health policy and scientific research.
The first version of SPMA (SPSS), designed in the early 1990s, ran under MSDOS with a Clipper® application. In 1996, a Visual Basic application (Windows environment) was developed to replace the outdated MSDOS application. Since January 2002, efforts have been made to make this software tool available through the Internet.
The then Ministry of Social Affairs, Public Health and Environment (now: Federal Public Service Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment) provided the birth and mortality data for the period 1987 to 1990. Since 1991, the FPS Economy - Directorate-general Statistics and Economic Information
(ex NIS) has been providing these data together with population data dating back to 1987. This institute centralises the mortality information coded by the Flemish and French Communities (International Classification of Disease-9 (ICD-9)). From the year 1998, ICD-10 is used. These data are grouped in SPMA by age, sex, nationality and district.
The mortality information is registered on the basis of residency (de jure information) instead of place of death (de facto information).
As far as mortality is concerned, only the initial cause of death is taken into account. The initial cause of death is definedin accordance with the encoding rules of the World Health Organization (WHO), as: