By Chikwe Azoma
The National Population Commission (NPopC) Lagos state, has vowed to work harder to sensitize the communities in the state on the need to imbibe the culture of birth registration.
This is even as about 70 percent of children in Nigeria are not birth registered during and after birth.
The Deputy Director and Head of Department(HOD), Vital Registration Department, NPopC, Lagos state, Nwannkwu Ikechukwu, disclosed this at a two-day media workshop on the need to scale up birth registration in Lagos.
The media dialogue was organized by the National Orientation Agency (NOA) Lagos state, in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in Oyo State, recently.
Ikechukwu disclosed that from the National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS 2013) data, 70 percent of children in Nigeria do not have their birth registration.
To achieve free and universal birth registration, he said, formulating and enacting laws, policies and standards-dealing with two parallel and competing, birth registration systems, improving service delivery, identifying barriers, encouraging innovation, forging community based-approaches should be scaled up.
When a child is not registered, there is no official record of his/her full names, says Ikechukwu, adding that he/she will not have access to basic services.
To scale up birth registration in Lagos state, Ikechukwu said there are 122 birth registration centers in the state, adding that the commission plans to create additional 26 centers. “Another six centers will be created in Alimosho due to its large population,” he added.
At intervals, birth registration mop-up, an active form of registration whereby ad hoc registrars are mobilized to go from house to house to canvass birth registration, are embarked upon to register the births that are probably not registered during normal registration, says the deputy HOD.
“Mop-up has really helped to capture the children living on the water in order to boost registration of birth and get wider coverage. The intervention of UNICEF to scale up birth registration in Lagos State cannot be overemphasized,” he added.
Despite the achievement in Lagos state, Ikechukwu said NPopC Lagos state, is still confronted with a myriad of challenges like lack of suitable offices for comptrollers and registrars; touting of birth and death certificate; the unhealthy rivalry between Lagos state council staff and NPopC registrars.
Similarly, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF, Sharon Oladiji, says about 1,436,896 children, representing 31 percent of children under age five in Lagos state are not registered at birth.
In 2017, she said the worst-performing LGAs in Lagos state are Mushin with 16 percent, Apapa with 26 percent, Ajeromi/Ifelodun with 26 percent while in 2018, the worst performing LGAs are Ajeromi/Ifelodun with 34 percent, Lagos mainland with 36 percent and Mushin with 41 percent birth registration.
Oladiji said the consequences of weak birth registration systems are incapacity to generate relevant public health data and national estimates and population planning; poorly functioning civil registration directly affects the exercise of basic human rights.