The United Nations Children Education Fund on Wednesday said that 62 per cent of Nigerian children were born outside health facilities by traditional birth attendants between 2008 and 2013.
The agency noted that while 40 per cent of expectant mothers made attempts to access health facilities for childbirth during this period, only 32 per cent of births were registered since the beginning of 2018.
A Child Protection Specialist with the UNICEF, Sharon Oladiji, disclosed this while delivering a lecture themed, ‘Current situation of birth registration in Nigeria’, during the opening ceremony of a two-day media dialogue for journalists on birth registration held in Kano.
The event was organised by UNICEF and supported by the Child Rights Information Bureau of the Federal Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
UNICEF said the refusal of women to access modern health facilities was a major problem in birth registration.
Oladiji said, “In 2016, the total number of registered births under the age of one was 2,519,071, which translated to 51 per cent of the estimated births in the country.
“But, in 2017, the figure came down to 7,066 registered births, out of the 4,758,812 expected under one year. It is, therefore, worrisome that in 2018 the performance of birth registration is only 32 per cent. This also shows that all the states have low registration. It is also traceable to some limitations, which must be urgently addressed.
“It is always difficult for government to know the number of schools to be built, projects to undertake and health workers to employ when they do not know the number of births registered in Nigeria.”
She stressed the need for local support to mount health centres, increase the number of health registrars in the country and constantly sensitise the public on the importance of birth registration.
Oladiji quoted the 2013 National Demographic Health Survey, which traced the low level of birth registration to ignorance among residents of rural communities.
She called on civil society organisations and the mass media to rise up to the challenge and educate mothers on the importance of birth registration.
While declaring the event open, the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, represented by the Head of Advocacy in CRIB, Olumide Osanyipeju, said there was a need for a widespread media campaign to enlighten and create awareness on birth registration in homes, communities and at all levels of government.
Mohammed said, “The low level or apparent lack of awareness on the importance of birth registration has resulted in the lack of planning for children and the improper capturing of this important segment of our society in developmental and social processes that affect them.
“Workable solutions to this general weak knowledge can begin right from the homes and communities and through a widespread media campaign aimed at creating awareness at all levels of governance and civil society.”
The media campaign, he added, would drive the demand for birth registration services and promote increased knowledge on the importance of birth registration.
The minister also stated that 18 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja with under-five population projections, totalling over 20 million, were being considered for an integrated birth registration uptake approach. The states are Adamawa, Kebbi, Niger, Borno, Jigawa, Bauchi, Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Sokoto, Ekiti, Enugu, Ondo, Rivers, Oyo, Ogun, Benue and Lagos state and FCT.
By: Friday Olokor, Jos
The Punch News
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