About LiST

The Lives Saved Tool (LiST) estimates the impact of scaling up on maternal, newborn, and child health, and nutrition (MNCH&N) interventions in low and middle income countries. Users - including NGOs, government partners, researchers, project planners and graduate students – have used LiST for advocacy, evaluation, and strategic planning. LiST was developed by the Institute for International Programs at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation - It is housed within Spectrum, a software package maintained by Avenir Health.

LiST calculates changes in cause-specific mortality based on intervention coverage change, intervention effectiveness for that cause, and the percentage of cause-specific mortality sensitive to that intervention. Coverage data come from large-scale household surveys - typically Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) - as well as WHO/UNICEF and the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (JMP). Default effectiveness values come from systematic reviews, meta-analyses, Delphi estimations, and randomized control trials based upon the Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group (CHERG) guidelines.  Baseline mortality is drawn from country-level estimates from WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Group and the United Nations Population Division and the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (IGME). These high quality data sources as inputs translate into estimates that can be trusted. Additionally, users who have more recent or better data can easily replace default data with their own. A full explanation of the LiST methodology is explained in a 2013 paper by Walker et al.

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Interventions and data sources in LiST

The full list of data sources, assumptions, and citations from the scientific literature are available in the Help documentation for LiST. This can be accessed by clicking the “Help” button inside the software.

Most data sources are updated on an annual basis, or as frequently as nationally representative household survey data for a given country is made available. The research literature is reviewed frequently to assure all effectiveness assumptions in the software are up-to-date.

The “Data Quality in LiST” webinar provides an overview of data sources and related issues.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can you help me understand how to use the Lives Saved Tool?

A: There are many resources on our website that explain how to use LiST available here. We also hold occasional training sessions. Please join our mailing list to get notified as they become available.


Q: What types of interventions can be modeled in LiST?

A:  The interventions in LiST impact the major causes of neonatal, under-five, and maternal mortality and nutrition outcomes in low and middle income countries. Users can model the impact of family planning and HIV/AIDS interventions through other modules in the Spectrum (FamPlan and AIM, respectively). At this time, it is not possible to use LiST to model intervention impact on chronic diseases, neglected tropical diseases, injuries, and adolescent health.

Q: How can I figure out the definition of an intervention and its effectiveness source?

 A: All of the information about the effectiveness can be found in the Help menu. While in the coverage tab, click on the “Help” button in the right hand corner. This menu documents the intervention definition, effectiveness source, and any other notes.


Q: Can LiST be used in high-income countries?  

A: No. The Lives Saved Tool is not appropriate to use in high-income settings.


Q: Where do the inputs in LiST come from?

A: Coverage comes from nationally representative household surveys including the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS). Mortality rates come from the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN-IGME) and World Health Organization, UNICEF, United Nations Population Fund and The World Bank for maternal. Cause of death estimates are prepared by the WHO Maternal and Child Epidemiology Estimation (MCEE) group.

Q: How can I tell where a particular number in the LiST module comes from?

A: Right clicking on a number in the LiST module and clicking on “Data source” will allow the user to view its data source.


Q: How can I change an intervention’s effectiveness?
A: Users can change effectiveness by clicking on the “effectiveness” tab while in the LiST module.

Q: How do I add an intervention that is not currently in LiST?

A: Please see this presentation.


Q: Can I use a Mac?

A: Spectrum is designed to run on a Windows PC. Please see instructions here for using alternative operating systems on a Mac.

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