The National Population Commission (NPopC) has called for more personnel to adequately provide birth registration services in Nigeria.
The Assistant Director, Vital Registration, NPopC, Hajiya Hapsatu Isyaku made the appeal at a media dialogue on birth registration in Lagos.
“There is an urgent need to capture birth registration data in the facility level data tools to promote documentation of birth registration services and strengthen integration efforts with the health sector and other convergent programmes.
“Lack of completeness of civil registration is impacting on the availability of complete data, the quality of the information therein and the use of these data for reliable decision making processes,” Hajiya Isyaku said.
She said birth registration was manually conducted, saying there is need for urgent migration from analogue to digital registration.
The official also cited inadequate office accommodation for the registrars and inadequate storage facilities for working materials as some of the challenges facing the commission.
“The Local Government Area has many localities sparsely distributed in the area hence the need for logistics become apparent to allow registrar navigate his or her catchment area with less difficulties.
“There is need for the commission to take full responsibility to make necessary demand to government…National Population Commission collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, should be sustained,” she said.
Hajiya Isyaku said according to the 2013 Demographic Health Survey, birth registration of under-5 children in Nigeria was approximately 30 per cent while the remaining 70 per cent remained unregistered.
Reason for unregistered children
She said that the major reasons for unregistered children were ignorance of parents and care givers or the very rural communities have no knowledge of birth registration.
“Of the about 62 per cent of birth occurred at home, only 38 per cent birth in Nigeria are delivered in health facility…Birth registration is a process of recording the birth of child by NPopC.
“It is the permanent and official record of a child’s existence by the government and is fundamental to the realisation of children’s rights and practical needs,” she explained.
Hajiya Isyaku said birth registration was free and universal and conducted within the context of a functional civil registration system in the country.
She said securing children’s right to a nationality would allow them to get a passport, open a bank account, obtain credit, vote and find employment.
It helps to ensure access to basic services, including immunisation, healthcare and school enrolment at the right age.
”Birth registration is also essential in protection efforts and links cross sectoral and on inter-thematically with health, education, right issues, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, including preventing child labour by enforcing minimum employment age laws; ensuring that children in conflict with the law are not treated (legally and practically).
“As adults, shielding them from underage military service or conscription; countering child marriage; and reducing trafficking, as well as assisting children who are repatriated and reunited with family members,” the official stressed.
Hajiya Isyaku said; “To further straighten the collection of data on civil registration and vital statistics, the Commission collaborates with the United Nations Children Education Funds, Ministries of Health, Education, Nigerian Immigration Services,
Ministry of Women Affairs, National Identity Management Commission and the result is encouraging.”
She said such collaboration would be sustained by the commission for better, reliable and accurate data on births, deaths, marriages and divorces.
The integration of births, deaths and still births into the healthcare system was approved at the 55th National Council on Health meeting held in 2012 in Abuja.
Hajiya Isyaku said the partnership had yielded a positive result on the part of the commission by providing a wider coverage of births registration in the country.
“The synergy brought about the use of health officials into the recording of births at the place of its occurrence particularly in hospitals, maternities and health centres, among others.
“In collaboration with the UNICEF, radio programmes are currently on where Nigerians are being sensitised on daily basis on the importance of registration of births, deaths, etc, in both English and local languages,” she said.
The Zonal Monitor of South West Zone, Vital Registration Office, NPopC, Mrs Helen Oghi also called for timely submission of scorecard and computerised records based on hard copy data and rapid short message service.
She also said birth registration should be properly monitored while performing local government areas should be commended and erring officers sanctioned or replaced.
– Mercy Chukwudiebere I VON