By Yakubu Uba
The National Population Commission (NPoC) with support from EU/UNICEF had in 2016 conducted a mass birth registration campaign to address the problem of low birth registration in Adamawa state and since then things are improving for the better.
A total of 2,136 sub registrars were engaged during the exercise to assist the only 79 registrars in Adamawa in the massive birth registration campaign that involved going from house to house in the 226 wards of the state, while the state government was advised to address the problem of shortage of staff by seconding local government staff to NPoC to serve as sub-registrars on a permanent basis.
Also with funding support from EU through UNICEF, more than 300 health workers were trained on birth registration services in the various health facilities in the state.
Similarly, UNICEF, in collaboration with NPoC and Adamawa Primary Healthcare Agency, further trained 300 Community Resource Persons (CORP) on birth registration in insurgency affected local government areas of the state such as Madagali, Michika, Mubi North, Mubi South and Maiha to ensure all unregistered children in Adamawa were registered and obtained the birth registration certificate issued by NPoC that gave them the proper identity as Nigerians.
It took that significant intervention to enlightened many parents to understand that the series of birth certificates issued to their children by hospitals that were not from NPoC are not recognized by law.
The birth registration certificate issued by NPoC is the only recognized certificate that provides legal, documentary evidence of the child’s existence; age, parentage, birth place and nationality. As stakeholders rightly observed, the NPoC certificate enable the government plan for children and implement basic social services such as health, education, infrastructure and employments for the future well-being of these children.
Before the success story, the National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) indicated that birth registration in Adamawa was the lowest in the north-eastern part of the country, with only 17 percent of under one and four percent of under five years registered in the state in 2015.
Expressing concern about the low rate of birth attendance generally in the country, observers say there must be pragmatic measures aimed at improving birth registration.
They noted that birth registration is one of the four major sources of demographic data for planning process which should be on a continuous, permanent and compulsory recording.
Mr Innocent Mishikir, the Head of Vital Registration in the National Population Commission office in Yola, said lack of public awareness on the importance of the registration had been one of the major challenges in Adamawa which the campaign helped to address.
Mishikir said other challenges include inadequate registration centres and workforce; Adamawa then has only 79 registration centres.
For a state undergoing recovering from Boko Haram insurgency and undergoing resettlement and rehabilitation, the role of birth registration for the needed data for effective planning cannot be underestimated.
The role of Adamawa Ministry of Health and the Primary Healthcare Development Agency in the success story cannot be overemphasized particularly in area of sustained sensitization on the importance of birth registration which is described as a right.
“Civic registration is a continuous and compulsory recording of the occurrence and characteristic of vital events, such as birth, death, stillbirth and marriages, among others.
“It is therefore the right of every child to be registered without any discrimination as specified in Article 7 of the convention on the Right of children,’’ Mr David Garnvwa, an NPoC official said.
Sharon Oladeji, a child protection specialist, who spoke on the importance of addressing gaps in birth registration in Adamawa state, noted that tackling the problem would play a vital role in the state’s development by providing the state the ability to plan, implement, monitor, evaluate and report on the impact of its social and economic policies and ensure that resources are allocated to where they are really needed.
Speaking on the success story, Aishatu Abubakar Girei, the Adamawa Director of NPoC said tremendous improvement has so far been recorded in Birth Registration in Adamawa and that the state is now leading in North East.
While urging parents to ensure registration of their children which is free, Girei said without birth certificate one is not existing.
“It’s free, it gives access to schools, hospitals, jobs and other social services. Without it is like you are not existing,” Girei said
Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa while speaking at the recent NPoC launched of 2018 National Demographic and Health Survey report in Yola reiterated the commitment of his administration always study data from reliable sources to identify priority action areas for effective results.
He said such relying on such data in planning and policy making remain vital for good governance, transparency and accountability.
The challenge now for Adamawa is to sustain the tempo and build on the gains recorded by working towards 100 percent success that will ensure that all children in Adamawa are given their right to existence and identity.