WINDHOEK, Namibia, 23 October 2008 – In collaboration with UNICEF, the Government of Namibia has launched a pilot programme to ensure that all children who are born in hospitals received a birth certificate.
Birth certificates are often essential for children to access critical services, such as health care and education and birth registration is one of the rights listed in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Commended as an important milestone for children’s rights in Namibia, the programme was launched recently at Katutura State Hospital in Windhoek.
The innovative project notes that ‘It’s every child’s right to a name and a nationality.’ It is being supported by Namibia’s Ministry of Health and Social Services and the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration in partnership with UNICEF.
‘Every child’s right’
“The pilot project is aimed at ensuring that all babies that are born at maternity wards are registered and given birth certificates soon after birth,” said the Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration Ms. Nghidinwa, speaking at the launch.
Namibia’s Minister of Health Dr. Richard Kamwi reiterated the Ministry’s commitment to birth registration services, saying that plans are underway to roll out the programme to 34 hospitals, health centres and clinics in the country. The pilot project will start with six hospitals in 2009.
Namibia is home to approximately 250,000 orphaned and vulnerable children, yet only 95,000 currently benefit from state-run child-welfare grants because children who do not have birth certificates cannot receive this assistance. Approximately 70 per cent of children in Namibia were registered in 2006.
UNICEF Namibia Representative Ian Macleod said UNICEF is prepared “to give technical expertise to the Government to ensure that appropriate legal measures and policies are in place to address the backlog of birth registration.”
Mr. Macleod warned that a failure to ensure that all children are registered at birth is a threat to human development.
“Children without birth registration are the same children who are disadvantaged in terms of their socioeconomic status, education, health care and protection,” he said.