YANGON, 28 July 2017: UNICEF hails the endorsement of the revised Manual on Vital Registration by the Ministry of Planning and Finance this week, as a major milestone towards universal birth registration, the realization of the rights of every child in Myanmar, and their ability to access opportunities as adults. "With the adoption of this new national manual, and simplified procedures such as the removal of fees, the Government of Myanmar will be able to operationalize its commitment to universal birth registration for all children up to age 10 born in Myanmar, in all parts of the country, regardless of their parents’ nationality, ethnicity and citizenship status”, said Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF Representative to Myanmar.
Nation-wide, more than twenty per cent of children under five remain unregistered, in spite of very successful recent campaigns. Without a birth certificate these children will face many difficulties accessing health services, enrolling in school, and benefiting from protection from child labor, under-age recruitment in armed forces, early marriage and trafficking. Later on in life, it may also mean young adults are denied opportunities for higher studies and job opportunities that often require applicants to provide a birth certificate.
The new Manual has been developed under the stewardship of the Government's Coordination Committee on Birth and Death Registration (CCBDR) and the technical efforts of the Inter-Agency Working Group on Vital Registration (IAWG-VR) bringing several ministries together. It is the result of a long term and systematic effort, initiated in 2014, which involved many technical reviews, as well as field testing involving administrations of States and Regions.
Based on other countries' experiences in Asia, UNICEF has provided technical and financial assistance for the development of the Manual, and with the support of the European Union supported the implementation of recent campaigns across the country. The Manual will guide the Government-led Universal Birth Registration campaigns in 8 States and Regions (Bago, Kachin, Mandalay, Rakhine, Sagaing, Shan, Tanintharyi, and Yangon) that were not covered by previous campaigns.
Yet, for birth registration to become a right met for every child in Myanmar from birth, there is a need to build a strong sustainable routine registration system in line with the principles and procedures in the new Manual.
Calling on the mobilisation of greater international financial assistance and partnerships with the private sector, Bainvel concludes: "Universal birth registration indeed costs money. But it must be seen as a lifelong investment in every person's potential. And it is the first crucial step to be taken to ensure that no one is left behind".