When Ibu Sutiyati, the midwife coordinator at the Health Centre in Ome, a village on remote Tidore Island in the Province of North Maluku, 2,500 km from Jakarta, discussed with her colleagues how to increase the number of women delivering their babies with the help of skilled birth attendants in the Health Centre, they came up with a very simple yet innovative idea: The Health Centre should collaborate with the Registration Office of the District to provide a birth certificate immediately after delivery in the Health Centre.
While parents can request a birth certificate free of charge from the Registry Office of their District within 60 days after birth, many families throughout Indonesia do not take advantage of this opportunity. As Dr Rusni, the Head of Ome Health Centre explains, “A lot of them, especially those living in rural areas like here in Tidore, are not aware of the importance of having a birth certificate. Others cannot afford the transportation cost to the District Office or have difficulties in assembling all the documents required for issuing the certificate.” This leaves a great number of children without birth certificate, which is required for enrolling in school and the only document an Indonesian child can have to prove its name and nationality. Against a fee of 25,000 Rupiahs (approximately 3 US Dollars), parents can also request it later on, but by then many cannot remember the correct age or date of birth of their children. Following discussions between Ome Health Centre and the District, an agreement was soon signed and logistic arrangements put in place, which would not entail any costs.
A staff member of the Registry Office, who lives in the neighbourhood of the Health Centre, picks up the documentation and returns the next day with the birth certificate. Little Saulia Fitriani, born on 10 September 2011, is one of the first beneficiaries of this new cooperation: As soon as she was born, the midwives of Ome Health Centre took care of requesting her birth certificate.
Thanks to the unique and unbureaucratic partnership between the Health Centre and the Registry Office of the District, her parents could take the birth certificate home together with their little daughter. Bapak Zulkifri, Saulia’s father, is very grateful for this service: “It saved us a lot of money and hassle. We didn’t have to pay for transportation, make the long way to the Registry Office ourselves and spend a day waiting in line for the birth certificate. The Health Centre staff also helped us arrange the correct documents, which would have been difficult otherwise.” Also Ibu Sutiyati is very pleased with the effect of this new service:“UNICEF has helped us to advocate for the importance of birth certificates. Receiving a birth certificate immediately after the delivery is perceived as an advantage by the parents. Because of this, more women are now giving birth at the Health Centre under the skilled care of midwives.” And, making it a win-win situation for everyone, also the District Government is very happy about the higher number of birth certificates issued and the increased awareness of parents about its importance. The news about the innovative service offered by Ome Health Centre has quickly spread throughout the neighbouring villages: Also Ibu Suhaimi’s second child will benefit from this new service. “I will give birth at the Health Centre”, explains the 31-year-old who lives in the village of Gubukosuma like Bapak Zulkifri and his family. “Unlike my first daughter Nurmala, who still doesn’t have a birth certificate at age five, my second baby will have one immediately after birth and we don’t have to worry about how to get it.” 1