Academic journal article Demographic Research

Trends in the Completeness of Birth Registration in Nigeria: 2002-2010

Academic journal article Demographic Research

Trends in the Completeness of Birth Registration in Nigeria: 2002-2010

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Birth registration is a fundamental right that affords children the opportunity to be documented and establish their nationality. Unfortunately, this right is denied to many children, especially in less developed countries (Pais 2009; UNICEF 1989). Indeed, an estimated 230 million children worldwide have never had their births registered, thereby exposing them to various rights abuses (Bambas 2005; Bequele 2005; Cappa et al. 2014; Corbacho, Brito, and Rivas 2012; Dow 1998; UNICEF 2013). Like other global health challenges, Africa lags behind in the registration of births and is only better than Asia (Bequele 2005; Mikkelsen et al. 2015; UNICEF 2013, 2014a). Less than 10% of Africa's population live in countries with complete (above 90% coverage) birth registration (Mahapatra et al. 2007). There is evidence that the rate of birth registration stagnated between 1995 and 2004 (Mahapatra et al. 2007; Setel et al. 2007).

The birth of a child is one of the important events routinely recorded in a Civil Registration System (CRS) (United Nations 2001; World Health Organization 2008). According to the United Nations, civil registration is defined as the "universal, continuous, permanent and compulsory recording of vital events provided through decree or regulation in accordance with the legal requirements in a country" (World Health Organization and World Bank 2014). However, compliance with birth registration is still below 50% in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, 25 years after the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (Cappa et al. 2014; UNICEF 2014a). The CRC is an international treaty comprising 54 articles developed in 1989 to recognize the rights of children. It is regarded as "the most widely and rapidly ratified human rights treaty in history" (UNICEF 2014a). The right of children to have their births registered is the seventh article of the CRC.

The importance of CRS data in monitoring health outcomes cannot be understated and requires national and international action to ensure its availability and reliability in monitoring performance of interventions. The post-2015 global health agenda (the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs]) has made strengthening birth registration one of its major targets (AbouZahr et al. 2015; United Nations 2015; World Health Organization and World Bank 2014). In particular, SDG goal 16.9 states as its aim that it will "by 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration" (United Nations 2015). This gives added impetus to measure the performance of the CRS and focus attention on where it is found suboptimal to ensure progress toward meeting the universal birth registration target by the deadline. To this end, the World Health Organization, World Bank, and other partners have developed a ten-year plan, "The Global Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Scaling up Plan (2015-2024)," in the hope of providing the needed guidance to support governments toward the achievement of this goal (World Health Organization and World Bank 2014). Other charities and recognized individuals have also made financial commitments to supporting the improvement of the CRS in developing countries (Lopez and Setel 2015; United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific 2014).

Birth statistics are a significant data source in the measurement of health in populations, providing the denominator data for calculating development indicators such as infant mortality and child mortality rates. These are also indicators that are used to measure the quality of health care in a country and the level of access to health care in the population (Alarcón and Robles 2007). Poor data on these parameters can be misleading and drive suboptimal investments in the health system. Additionally, birth statistics are important for monitoring policies and programs on fertility in a country. They can be a significant yardstick for assessing the impact of interventions aimed at controlling population growth and determining the need for an increased intensity of intervention. …

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