Malawi launches issuance of birth registration reports
By Kusali Kubwalo
Lilongwe, 27th March, 2012 – Malawi today launched the issuance of birth registration reports marking the start of a process that will eventually make birth registration universal and compulsory in Malawi. At a ceremony marking the launch, Deputy Minister in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Nicholas Dausi said the issuance of birth registration reports will guarantee full protection for Malawi’s children from trafficking, child labour, child prostitution and early marriages.
“Above all, for us to develop, we must know where we are. For us to grow, we must plan. For us to plan, we must know how many we are,” noted the Deputy Minister.
The Minister commended UNICEF and PLAN for demonstrating commitment towards supporting the well- being of Malawi’s children through financial and technical support towards the designing of a national birth registration system.
Speaking at the event, UNICEF Representative Carrie Auer said UNICEF is convinced that the birth registration system, if implemented and enforced effectively, will contribute greatly to improving the protective environment in Malawi. Ms. Auer appealed to Malawians to support birth registration if the process is to be successful.
“This we can do by encouraging pregnant mothers to deliver babies in health facilities, where they can obtain birth reports. We can also ensure that children born outside health facilities are provided with birth reports when they report for their first immunization, “she explained.
The National Registration Act was passed in 2009, putting into completion 5 years of efforts to review the legal framework. The Act makes birth registration compulsory and universal. UNICEF has supported the government to devise a modern and cost – effective system that looks at formalizing an institutional arrangement between the National Registration Bureau and the Ministry of Health to register children within 6 weeks of birth. The system also mainstreams birth registration into immunization and antenatal care programs to reach up to 95 per cent of children who make it to their first immunization. With UNICEF’s support, priority will be given to registration of the most vulnerable groups of children. These include girls at risk of sexual violence, trafficking, children in institution of care, children with disabilities, children at risk of child labour and children facing various forms of disability.
Birth registration will ensure that there is an official system for verifying the ages of children and will, therefore, help enforce existing laws.