Every child’s first right
Around 1.4 million babies are born every year in Uganda; they have the right to be registered at birth. Thanks to a new automated registration system, launched in 2010 with support from UNICEF, birth registration rates for children under 5 have risen from 30 per cent in 2011 to an estimated 69 per cent at the end of 2016.
However, challenges exist. Children born in communities where they do not have immediate access to registrars are still not getting their birth certificates in time. Nationally, certification is estimated at one third of children under 5 years of age.
The Mobile Vital Record System (Mobile VRS) captures and transmits a child’s information by mobile phone from the community and by a web-based application from hospitals. It is then uploaded directly into a central government server in real time. This information is accessible to the respective registration officers of a given registration area, who verify it for completeness and consistency, before a birth notification is printed, signed and issued to the registered child.
Operational in 135 hospitals and in more than half of 112 local governments, Mobile VRS is ensuring that children are not left without an official identity and legal protection.
A recent law by the government - The Registration of Persons Act 2015 – merges birth and death registration with national IDs under a new government agency – the National Registration and Identification Authority (NIRA). This law provides for the recruitment of new registrars, initially at district level, to exclusively register births, deaths and national IDs; and if resources permit, recruitment will be done at sub-county and town council levels. These are positive steps towards a sustainable government-run civil registration and vital statistics system, which will ensure that all children have access to birth registration and certification in a timely manner.
We are supporting the scale up of use of Mobile VRS nationally, to notify and register births and deaths, support issuance of birth certificates and ensure interoperability with other relevant government systems in health, education and governance.
To strengthen the national CRVS system through capacity development and equipping of NIRA, districts and health facilities, we are supporting NIRA to develop and implement an evidence-based and comprehensive Civil Registration Policy and costed national Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) Strategic Plan as well as provide technical and financial support
If the 2020 target of 90 per cent of children under 5 with birth registration is met, 7.9 million more children will be visible in the eyes of the law and officially exist.
We used to do handwritten birth certificates, but these days, everything is computerized