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Feb 18, 2016

The Birth Registration Conundrum Explained

An independent study shows that about six percent of newborns are not formally registered and that presents difficulties for the individuals later on in life, especially in accessing health care and education. But there is another side to that coin because a number of Belizeans in bordering towns are registered locally, as well as across the border. The study was commissioned by UNICEF and the Organization of American States.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Over the years, the registration of newborns delivered in Belize has presented a number of issues for the Vital Statistics Unit.  While record keeping is admittedly a tedious assignment, proof of birth and other pertinent information often makes for a lengthy process.  As a result of the consequent logjam, an analysis was commissioned by UNICEF and government for an independent consultant to assess the existing state of affairs and put forward recommendations to improve the system.

 

Patricia Holness

Patricia Holness, Consultant

“It is very important that birth registration be taken seriously in any country and a mother, as you just said, bonds with her child.  But then that child has to be a citizen, that child has to live in the country and reap the rewards of being a citizen.  So the government of that country needs to know that this is a citizen for whom I must care and also to ensure that all that goes with citizenship will go to that child.”

 

According to Registrar General Velda Flowers, a small percentage of children being born in the country are not being registered.  That six percent ratio and an understanding of the reasons behind parents not registering their newborns is what prompted the local study.

 

Velda Flowers

Velda Flowers, Registrar General, General Registry Department

“This effort came about as a result of the partnership we have with UNICEF and OAS, in order to try and ascertain and address the issue of the six percent non-registration of persons born in Belize.  Currently Belize has about ninety-four to ninety-five percent of all persons born in Belize registered and this effort was put in place to try and close that gap, that six percent gap that currently exists.”

 

Failure to register neonates, says Patricia Holness, a consultant who conducted the birth registration analysis, can result in a number of social issues later on, particularly when it comes to accessing health care.

 

Patricia Holness

“When you don’t register immediately it means that that person may not be available to the hospitals, for example, for immunization.  They will not be able to attend some schools, if you really observe the laws of the country; they may not be able to attend certain schools.  They may not be able to participate in other social amenities of the country because you’re not in the system.  And also, a child without an identity could be challenging for the individual himself or herself, socially.”

 

The study indicates that a number of newborns, particularly those from rural communities are delivered outside of the country, usually resulting in birth certificates being filed at home and abroad.  That practice, according to Flowers, is unlawful.  More stringent penalties are among several measures that will be brought into effect.

 

Isani Cayetano

“How will the results of this particular study be implemented into the work of the Vital Statistics Unit?”

 

Velda Flowers

“Well, as the consultant says, there are many of the recommendations that we can put in place as quick as possible and we will endeavor to do that.  There are other recommendations that we might have to look at from a policy level but those that we can look at from an administrative level we’ll take steps to try and put those and implement those recommendations.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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1 Response for “The Birth Registration Conundrum Explained”

  1. Belmopan says:

    I still can’t get my sons documents cause they always have excuses even though we already pay the fee and the receipt stated Du tomarrow and tomarrow can’t reach with them I don’t have time fu waist . who will pay my traveling expenses? . lame excuses like o they entered wrong info or our supervisor is in a urgent meeting or not ready yet till tomarrow and bam tomarrow no reach yet.

    1 more month to try and see if they implement something new!

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