Africa to commemorate Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Day

Blantyre: African Union member states will on Friday, August 10 commemorate the first ever Africa Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) Day under the theme: ‘Promoting Innovative Universal Civil Registration and Vital Statistics System for Good Governance and Better Lives.’

According to a Media Advisory on African Union’s website, the African Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Day was declared during the fourth conference of Ministers who advised the African Union Member States to observe the day on August 10 each year.

The first Conference of African Ministers responsible for Civil Registration held in 2010, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia marked the beginning of a coordinated and an integrated effort towards CRVS improvement in Africa, the advisory reads.

Since then, successive conferences of Ministers have been held every two years, signifying the high-level political commitment by African countries. The fourth conference of Ministers declared August 10 as African Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Day and advised African Union member States to observe the day, it added.

The AU Executive Council, during their 32nd Ordinary Session held on January 25 to 26, 2018 endorsed the recommendations set out in the Ministerial Declaration, the statement explained.

The Advisory said the day will act as a platform for increasing public awareness on the importance of making everyone visible in Africa through a well-functioning civil registration and vital statistics system covering the entire population and all vital events occurring in a country.

It is important to have in place appropriate national legal framework, information technology infrastructure and innovative business process improvement to make the CRVS system responsive to public demands by improving accessibility and quality of civil registration and related services, it stated.

Locally, Malawi managed to conduct its first ever national registration in 2017 which has seen over 9.1 million people being registered, according to National Registration Bureau Public Relations Officer (PRO), Norman Fulatira.

He said the Bureau issues certificates of vital events of one’s life like birth and death certificate, which the African Union indicated that the absence of such documents renders most of the world’s poor invisible and marginalised.

The PRO said unavailability of birth and death certificates exposes people to be victims of exploitation and human rights violations, which in turn, limit their access to socio economic benefits of their country.

So far, we have completed issuing birth certificates to over 300,000 children born in the country’s hospitals, Fulatira said.

He noted that, This year, we will start community birth registration. These are children whose data was not captured upon birth and we will be registering those up to 15 years.

According to the AU, most countries in Africa had a civil registration system for decades, yet the system was not fully-functional due to the fact that it was not compulsory, universal and complete.

Moreover, the use of modern Information Technology (IT) for CRVS system is minimal or non-existent and where it exists, it is not consistent with various government functions, such as national statistics, health care, identification management and electoral services.

Source: Malawi News Agency MANA