United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has decried low birth registration in the country, stating that more than 50% of the births of children under 5 remain unregistered in Nigeria.
UNICEF while lamenting that Africa has the lowest birth registration of all the continent, lamented that the births of 166 million children under 5 have never been recorded worldwide.
A statement on Tuesday by UNICEF said with only 44 per cent of children registered at birth and millions of deaths also go uncounted each year. Nigeria alone accounts for 11 per cent of unregistered children in West Africa.
The statement read that as Nigeria joins the rest of the World in commemorating Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Day on Tuesday, addressing structural, normative and operational challenges to birth registration should be on the front burner.
The statement emphasized that birth registration is a one-off event that gives every child a unique identity which will give them better access to vital services like health, education, and social protection.
The statement quoted the UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative, Peter Hawkins, to have said: “Every child counts – and we must ensure that we count every child, so that they can best benefit from important services like health and education,” while stressing that: “We need to work together to ensure effective coordination to make this happen. Functional systems that allow for the sharing of data across information management databases that are integrated with other vital services are necessary to push the birth registration rate in Nigeria up, and make sure every child is counted.”
Meanwhile, the National Population Council (NPC) has identified information and communication technology assets to support effective CRVS systems that are integrated with other governmental systems, such as health and identity management, to ensure the highest standards of data protection and confidentiality of personal data to promote birth registration among civil registration, health, and identity management systems.
Hawkins said. “Every child has a right to a name, a nationality and a legal identity,” noting that: “Working together, we can and must bring Nigeria to meeting its SDG obligation to provide a legal identify for all, including through birth registration.”
The statement revealed that the NPC, in partnership with Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) entities, and with support from UNICEF, co-created a Roadmap for Digital Universal Birth Registration in Nigeria, which laid out a clear vision, delineates the roles of different government agencies, builds the government’s capacity to deliver, formulates an action plan, sets a timetable and milestones, and optimizes the cost of the digital birth registration process in the country.
All of this is in advance of the implementation deadline of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which targets 16.9 calls for governments, by 2030, to provide legal identity for all, including birth registration.
The statement stressed that the indicator for the target is the “proportion of children under 5 years of age whose births have been registered with a civil authority, by age.”