Birth Registration: Nigeria Leads Among Eight African Countries With Lowest Unregistered Children

Chioma Umeha

The United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) has expressed worry over the alarming low level of birth registration in Nigeria as the country has the largest population of unregistered children among eight of the 10 countries with the lowest levels of birth registration are in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Mrs. Sharon Oladiji, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF, said this in Kano on Wednesday at a two-day Media Dialogue on Birth Registration.
Oladiji also said that only eight per cent per cent of under-five children are registered in Nigeria,
She noted that birth registration is a key issue evidenced by a birth certificate and requires urgent attention.
The Child Protection Specialist said, “A key issue that requires urgent attention is birth registration, evidenced by a birth certificate:
“Currently only eight per cent of under-5 children are registered in Nigeria:
“Only 44 per cent of Africa’s births are registered, leaving an estimated 85 million children under five unregistered.
“Eight of the 10 countries with the lowest levels of birth registration are in Sub-Saharan Africa, with Nigeria having the largest population of unregistered children.”
Noting that about 62 per cent of children were given birth to outside Nigeria’s health facilities, Oladiji stressed that advocacy at all state levels, if strengthened would support birth registration.
She said the importance of birth registration to the national development could not be over-emphasised as this would allow the government to take right policies for the betterment of all citizens.
She also said only 40 per cent of women access healthcare facilities which were a major problem in birth registration saying when women don’t visit the healthcare, how do you expect them to register.
“In 2016, registered birth under aged one is 2,519,071 which translated to 51 per cent of the estimated birth in the country.
“But in 2017, it is reduced to 7,066 birth registration out of the 4,758,812 expected births under the age of one.
“It is therefore worrisome in 2018 where the performance of birth registration is only 32 per cent. This also shows that all the states have low registration and this can be traceable to some limitations which must be urgently addressed.”
She noted that the 2013 National Demographic Health Survey (DHS) revealed the low level of registration which could not be traceable to only ignorance of rural community dwellers while calling on civil society organisations and the media to rise up to the challenge.
Earlier, the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said, there was need for widespread media campaign to enlighten and create awareness in homes, communities and at all levels of government on birth registration.
Mohammed, who was represented by Mr. Olumide Osanyipeju, Head of Advocacy, Child Right Information Bureau in the ministry, said the low awareness of birth registration had resulted to lack of planning.
“The low level, or apparently lack of awareness on the importance of birth registration has resulted in lack of planning for children and improper capturing of this important segment of our society in developmental and social processes that affect them.
“Workable solutions to this general weak knowledge can begin right from the homes and communities and through a wide spread media campaign aimed at creating awareness at all levels of governance and civil society.”
He added that the media campaign would drive demand for birth registration services and promote increased knowledge on the importance of birth registration.
UNICEF reports that 18 states and the FCT with under-five population projections totaling over 20 million are being considered for integrated birth registration uptake approach.
They include: Adamawa, Kebbi, Niger, Borno, Jigawa, Bauchi, Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Sokoto and the FCT.
Others are Ekiti, Enugu, Ondo, Rivers, Oyo, Ogun, Benue and Lagos state.


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