By Shadrach Aziz Kamara
In order to build resilient civil registration and vital statistics systems that provide innovative, integrated and decentralized services for the post COVID-19, the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) in partnership with other organizations have commemorated the 4thAfrica Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Day with the theme: “Leadership for Essential Services”.
The commemoration took the form of a Town Hall meeting held on the 10th August 2021 at the Buxton Memorial Hall in Freetown, adding that in 2016 African Ministers reached a consensus that 10th August every year should be commemorated as Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Day. Mr. Brima added that their aim is to leave no one behind.
Representing the Director General of the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA), Mr. Brima Kamara head of Birth and Death stated that this year they are commemorating the 4th Africa Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Day, adding that the day is commemorated to raise awareness on the essence of participating in the NCRA exercise. He went on to say that NCRA has been mandated through an act of Parliament to register birth, adoption, marriage, divorce and death. He disclosed that they want to ensure that every individual should be identified and counted. He encouraged women to register with them especially those that are on the verge of getting marriage, noting that women have suffered lots of disadvantages simply because there is no evidence to prove that they were legally married. Registering with them, he said will help to authentic their marital status.
“The 2017 data indicated that 81.1% of children under the age of five were registered and only 52.9% have birth certificates and 28.2% do not have birth certificates,” he disclosed. He said that members of Parliament have endorsed the fees for birth registration, adding that they are encouraging parents to their children earlier. The reason for this, he stated that a survey carried out by NCRA indicated that many people do make efforts to obtain a birth certificate, adding that they only obtain a birth certificate when they are in urgent demand for it.
According to the Child Protection Specialist of UNICEF, Stefens Schwarz, there is a need for NCRA to focus and understand the barriers that are militating against caregivers, mothers, fathers and families in general in trying to obtain birth certificates for their children. In order to move forward, he urged NCRA to address the issue. He said there have been some improvements since 2017, but there is still work to be done before they are able to tackle the problems. He called on NCRA to understand what the causes are.
Schwarz commended NCRA and Ministry of Health for the signing of an MOU, adding that it is a step in the right direction that will not leave any children behind, adding that strengthening of the synergy between the two institutions is very important. This he said, will help to increase the number of children captured in the data base.
Representatives of the Ministry of Health, Sierra Leone Correctional Center, Ministry of Defense, NASSIT, Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Internal Affairs were present at the occasion.