Friday, 16 September 2011 7:59 AM

UNICEF Assists with Birth Registration

The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund or UNICEF has launched a campaign to register all births in Solomon Islands by 2015.

Currently, few births are registered which makes it difficult to track children's welfare and help the government plan the delivery of services.

UNICEF is putting new strategies in place to make it easier for people to register births.

In an interview with Radio Australia, UNICEF officer, Ms. Annalisa Caparello revealed that the coverage of unregistered births in Solomon Islands is really unknown. What is known is through the Solomon Islands government and UNICEF's Child Protection Baseline survey which was done in 2008 with birth registration. The coverage estimated to be the lowest in the Pacific for the Solomon Islands, around zero-point-one-per cent only of children of births formally registered in 2007. It's considered to be the lowest in the Pacific.

She also revealed that the birth registration processes in the Solomon Islands are largely centralised, meaning that there is one central civil registration office in Honiara. Making this service arrangement challenging in a country like Solomon Islands where 80 per cent of the population lives away from urban centres, in remote and island communities.

To ensure registration, people are expected to travel from different provinces to Honiara and register their children, which although the service at the moment in Solomon Islands by law is free of charge, but the cost of the travel and the logistics of the travel for the people can be a serious impediment for that to happen, making the biggest challenge as service availability.

UNICEF is currently working very closely in providing technical assistance to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Civil Registration as well as Minister of Health and Medical Services. One of the key strategies that they're trying to support is the partnership opportunity between government agencies, so the services can be decentralized or delegation under the Birth and Death Registration Act can be implemented, so that the services are actually brought closer to the communities, what is most needed.

As such, UNICEF is currently supporting the Solomon Islands through a pilot initiative in three pilot hospitals; one at national level in Honiara, national referral and in two provincial hospitals in Giza Western Province, and Taro, Choiseul province, where support is provided to revise birth notification procedures so the health services' data can be shared with the Civil Registration Department.

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