The Birth and Death Registry (BDR) under the auspices of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, has launched a new automated birth registration system called the mBirths in Accra.
Births, a collaborative initiative between the BDR, United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and Tigo Ghana limited, is a mobile phone technology system that allows new registration of people, especially new born babies quickly and easily.
“This new system has the potential of revolutionising the registration of new born babies making it quick and easy for parents to obtain a birth certificate with the correct information,” Mr John Agbeko, Registrar of BDR said at the launch.
He said birth and death certificates are vital documents that give a child an identity and a sense of belonging.
“Birth registration is an essential component of a country’s civil registry. It strengthens the quality of vital statistics, aids planning and improves government efficiency,” he said.
Mr Agbeko said to enable every child a right to an identity and belonging, the partners would roll-out an automated birth registration system that would provide support for equipment, supplies and technical works of the BDR to move from the current manual registration system to a modern automated one.
He said following a pilot phase in the greater Accra Region as at December 31, 2015, the current registration, which stood at 6,529, had increased to 6,708.
Mr Agbeko noted that hospitals that have low registration rates in the past have been scaled up to undergo the exercise with 500 tablets to be provided by Tigo Ghana Limited to enhance the work of registration officers.
He said the lack of ICT infrastructure is a major bottleneck to the registry.
Mr Joseph Obeng Poku, Director of Policy at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, said the new system would offer a more robust and cost effective procedure as it transferred the information about the birth automatically from the site of registration to a central database in Accra.
He said in Ghana, more than four in 10 children were not registered at birth.
Mr Obeng Poku said about 15 per cent of the registered children below the age of five did not have a birth certificate.
“Children who are not registered at birth or without identification documents are at risk of being excluded from accessing education, health care and other basic services.
“These children are at a higher risk of exploitative forms of child labour, trafficking and child marriage,” he said.
Ms Rushman Murtaza, the Deputy Representative of UNICEF in Ghana said birth registration is more than just a right, saying, it is how a society first recognise and acknowledge a child’s identity and existence.
“Birth registration is also a key to guaranteeing that children are not forgotten, denied their rights or hidden from the progress of their nations,” she said.
Ms Murtaza indicated that birth registration rates in Ghana has stagnated over the past few years, constantly leaving out about 35 per cent of all new born babies.
“The new automated mBirths registration system’s use of technology is addressing this challenge by making the system more efficient,” she said.
Ms Roshi Motman Chief Executive Officer Tigo Ghana said ultimately, the use of technology for birth registration would form a strong foundation and give legal identity as well as protection to Ghana’s future generation.
“The ultimate outcomes for children are clear: the elimination of the lengthy, ineffective, manual birth registration procedures replaced by a quicker, smarter and more efficient birth registration process,” she said.
A memorandum of understanding was signed by the three partners to help ensure the smooth progress of work.
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