E-death notification system next

19 May 2017 | Ministries

After the roll out of the e-birth notification system, the home affairs ministry will explore the development of the e-death notification system.

A total of 42 154 babies under the age of one were registered during the last financial year in Namibia.

This comprises only 60% of all newly born babies in the country, while 60 854 people were registered late.

The Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, said at the launch of the e-birth registration an unregistered child does not exist legally and cannot exercise its rights and access important educational and social services.

“Register your child immediately after birth; it is the right of the child, and your responsibility as a parent to register him or her.”

The e-birth system will be piloted at Windhoek Central Hospital and Katutura State Hospital in June 2017. In July 2017 a team from the Technical Working Group will carry out the assessment at the Rundu and Eenhana state hospitals whereafter the system will be rolled out to all state hospitals depending on the availability of funds.

Iivula-Ithana said that while the government is working hard to roll out the system to all state hospitals countrywide, the private hospitals should also join this campaign by rolling out the e-birth notification systems in their respective facilities.

“I am pleased to note that Rhino Park Private Hospital has already approached our ministry to roll out the system in their hospital. We are currently working on a memorandum of understanding for the opening of a new birth registration office at Rhino Park Private Hospital in order to reduce the queues at our two current facilities at Katutura State Hospital and at Windhoek Central Hospital.”

According to her the high numbers of late registration of births is a major challenge towards reaching the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which call for establishing legal identity for all, including birth registration, by 2030.

She said that in the past years the ministry has been spending more resources on mobile registration exercises countrywide, aimed at registering persons who due to various reasons could not be registered immediately after birth. The ministry, after realising these challenges engaged the health ministry in 2008 to open birth registration offices in hospitals in order to improve accessibility.

According to her this has improved the rate of birth registration considerably.

Iivula-Ithana said that the aim of the e-birth is to notify the National Population Registration System (NPRS) electronically, when a birth has occurred at a hospital, to secure the birth details of the child. The notification will be done immediately after birth by the nurse who facilitated the delivery of the baby. The e-birth system will ensure verification of the mother’s identity as it is linked to the NPRS, as well as improve data quality and production of vital statistics.

According to her such data are essential for planning and implementing development policies and programmes, particularly in health, education, housing, water and sanitation, employment, agriculture and industrial production.

The government is only relying on birth projections for the calculation of birth statistics and birth registration statistics. “Therefore the launch of this project is crucial because it will provide accurate and timely vital statistics to the government and developmental partners for planning and developmental purposes,” said Iivula-Ithana.

She added that without a birth certificate, children cannot enrol in school and are not eligible to receive child support/grants. Addressing inequities or protection of marginalised groups would not be possible in the absence of accurate population data. “When children have no legal proof of age and legal identity, they are more vulnerable to early marriage and other harmful practices, including child labour, illegal inter-country adoption, and recruitment into armed forces and groups or commercial sexual exploitation.” Iivula-Ithana said that a lack of birth certificates can also complicate the processes for repatriation of refugee children, as well as family tracing for children separated from their families.

She said that the ministry is working hard towards its goal to digitise all processes relating to civil registration and will continue striving to expand services, and thus ensure timely registration of all children.

The system is a first for Africa.

ELLANIE SMIT

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