NO BIRTH CAN BE MISSED AND ALL MUST BE REGISTERED
A daily mission for Djénébou and 370 community health workers in Mopti and Sikasso.
Djénébou Diarra, joyful, enters Togola family's abode. The family lives in the village of Mébougou, in the Sikasso region of Mali. The community health worker brings good news : she holds in her hand the birth certificate of Sitan, the last born of this large family. She hands the precious document to Korotoum, the girl's mother. A look of relief comes over the 23-year-old mother’s face.Sitan was born a few weeks ago with the help of the village’s traditional birth attendant. Korotoum was unable to reach the community health center on time. It is located about 9 km away. After delivery, the traditional birth attendant informed Djénébou about the new birth. A systemthey started to ensure that every girl and boy born is registered within 30 days of birth.
Djénébou, 26 years old, the village’s health worker did the paperwork, then forwarded the declaration to the civil registry office. When little Sitan's birth certificate was issued, she also went to voluntarily collect it and hand deliver it to the mother.
"This is the 36th baby born at home that I have helped to declare on time since I started working in 2019 in this village."
"This is the 36th baby born at home that I have helped to declare on time since I started working in 2019 in this village," Djénébou proudly declares before adding: "I am happy.Before, parents did not see the importance of registering their children on time. It was only when the child had to be enrolled in school that they would run to do so; they were then obliged to pay for a supplementary judgment. But now that they know about it, it's less and less of a problem."
In 2021, a memorandum of understanding between the National Directorate of Civil Status, the General Directorate of Health and Public Hygiene, the National Federation of Community Health Associations and the National Association of Municipalities enshrined the role of community health workers in the birth registration process. Support for birth registration is now part of the responsibilities of community health workers, who are traditionally responsible for health awareness in communities and liaising between communities and decentralized community health services.
Djénébou, with 370 other community health workers and 80 civil registrars, received training on the process for declaring and registering births and for a better interoperability between civil registry and health services in the Sikasso region.
This training and a dozen other activities to strengthen Mali's civil registry,are part of the project "Towards Universal Birth Registration and Legal Identity”. The project is coordinated by UNICEF in the regions of Mopti and Sikasso and financed by the Italian Agency for Development and Cooperation with more than one million euros. These two regions in central and southern Mali were selected because of the high birth rate in Sikasso and the very low registration rate in Mopti.
In Mali, about 13% of children are not registered at birth, according to the Demographic and Health Survey (EDSM 2018). This represents millions of girls and boys without a legal identity. This unknown or non-existent status can deprive them of their right to education and health and make them vulnerable to various forms of exploitation and trafficking.
The Malian government, supported by UNICEF and many partners, has made great efforts to ensure that civil registration services operate more efficiently.
For each child, an identity.
For every child, a future.