Reasons Borno State tops Lagos and others in achieving highest number in birth registration for the first six months of 2018 were given by Populations experts at a recent United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) media dialogue held in Kano.
The state which recorded 83% registration of children below one year old and 20% of those below five years, leads Lagos which recorded less than 50%
A combination of multi-sectoral strategy tied with international donor’s support lead by UNICEF were notably responsible for achieving 83% birth registration recorded in a state that has been worse hit by insurgency.
According to the 2013 Demographic Health Survey, birth registration of under-5 children in Nigeria is approximately 30%, while the remaining 70% remain unregistered and in legal terms do not exist.
Currently 3,411,419 (females/1,652,248 and males/1,759,171) children in different age bands have been registered in the first half of 2018. In other words, about 32% births of under a year old were registered in the first half of the year and only 8% of under-five year-old were also registered in the country.
A major reason why most births are unregistered is due to ignorance of parents or care givers or that the very rural communities have no knowledge of birth registration.
Not less than 62 percent of births occur at home while about 35% are recorded in health facilities according to the Demographic Health Survey.
The experts at the media dialogue organized by UNICEF in Kano, attributed combined efforts of federal, state and local government personnel during an integrated birth registration exercise and a mop-up during the health week campaign in Borno State to the huge success recorded.
Borno State Director of the National Population Commission (NPoC) Alhaji Bukar M. Gajram told Healthstyleplus, “the peculiar situation in Borno state being severely affected by insurgency, was responsible for the massive campaign and funding by different partners who wanted to ensure all children born since the onset of the Boko Haram insurgency were registered”.
According to Gajiram, “to enable us to achieve a successful exercise the state, NPoC recruited a lot of ad hoc registrars who had to follow healthcare workers when they were carrying out immunisations and we massively registered many children especially below five years. We also carried out mop-up exercise at the Internally Displaced Persons Camps (IDP) camps all over the state.
Aside this, Gajiram told our Correspondent, “we were also assisted by some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) like the Norwegian Refugees Council, the International Rescue Committee and others who greatly assisted in conducting the massive registration. The United Nations High Commission on Refugees also selected Local Governments like: Bama, Ngala Mobbar and Gwoza which are very peculiar local government areas where we had serious insurgence”, revealed the Director.
Liberated crisis torn areas were not left out of the massive campaign and regiosteration of births too, our Correspondent was told.
UNICEF gave logistic support to local officials who were involved in moving around areas such as Mobbar, Munguno, Nganzai, Gubio, Ngala, Gwoza about eight council areas that had been liberated from the terrorists.
In addition, he said, Primary School teachers were recruited and trained to record the birth dates of new pupils during school enrolment “if parents were unable to present birth certificates”, said Gajiram.
Asked how much the state government committed into the programme to sustain its ownership, Gajiram expressed concerns that of the N22m budget proposal to state government nothing had been released.
According to him, “We budgeted for about N22m so that we could recruit new registrars and give them stipends at the end of the month for at least six months, but we are told its still being processed.
“We foresee a situation where there would be a lapse in birth registration once donor leave and government is not taking ownership especially on manpower shortage”.
At the end of the mid-year exercise, NPoC had registered 77,000 children and hopes to reach 130,000 before the year runs out.