With less than 1 in 2 births registered, innovative approaches can boost birth registration in Africa
Birth registration is a child’s passport to protection and critical services
Dakar/Nairobi – As today marks the first Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) Day in Africa, UNICEF welcomes the commitment of African governments to invest in civil registration system through innovations.
In sub-Saharan Africa, less than one in two children under five are registered. At current trends, 115 million children will be left without access to a legal identity and basic social services in their country by 2030. Globally, the African continent has the lowest civil registration coverage and weak vital statistics systems.
Technology offers an important opportunity for impressive gains in birth registration and building longer term systems.
“Birth registration is a child’s passport to protection and critical services,” said Leila Pakkala, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa. “Today, technology offers an important opportunity for impressive gains in birth registration and building longer term systems. Many countries are exploring innovative practices in CRVS that should rapidly be taken to scale.”
Under the theme, “Promoting Innovative Universal Civil Registration and Vital Statistics System for Good Governance and Better Lives,” the Day aims to highlight the use of technology and approaches that make civil registration and vital statistics more simple, affordable and widely accessible.
To strengthen broader civil registration systems and improve birth registration across the continent, UNICEF has developed tools to support administrative data systems, such as Rapid Pro, a data collection tool that operates with simple mobile phones to record the number of births and deaths, allowing the follow-up of system performance in real time.
Another strategy is to work with health systems and services to ensure every newborn child is counted and given a legal identity. Results of innovative UNICEF programming show that birth registration increases significantly when it is integrated with health services. In Uganda for instance, great inroads have occurred through working with the Health Sector, doubling birth registrations to an estimated 60%. While in Senegal, during annual Child Health Days, registration rates of children under one in areas with low birth registration increased significantly when children were registered while receiving health services such as immunization.
“With a legal identity, children can more easily access basic services, such as health and education,” said Marie Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “Linking birth registration with maternal and child health services – especially in remote communities – will move African countries closer to providing equal opportunities to all children.”
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