Guyana on track for Universal Birth Registration

-General Register Office

The General Register Office (GRO) says its analysis of birth registration over the past five years indicates that Guy-ana is on track to attain Universal Birth Registra-tion ahead of the January 2015 deadline set under the Millennium Develop-ment Goals (MDGs).

The GRO is currently monitoring all systems that were put in place over the past ten years to ensure that under registration is eliminated and bedside registration is ongoing, it said in a press statement. Universal Birth Registra-tion has been identified as an important aspect for countries achieving and monitoring the Millennium goals that promote gender and equality, children and health issues.

Having addressed under registration and late registration, and establishing additional registration centres and an active public awareness programme early in 2013, a pilot project was launched at the major public hospitals to reintroduce bedside birth registration. Ninety-five to ninety-eight per cent of all births are delivered in hospitals and bedside registration was brought into effect again to capture 100% of birth registration before the mother is discharged.

The project was so successful that in July 2013 bedside birth registration was reintroduced at all hospitals, the statement said.

The United Nations Children’s Fund provided support for the registration of births in the rural regions by funding the cost of trips to the far-flung areas, and for the printing of posters and pamphlets. Father Paul Martins of the Catholic Church also supported the project and single-handedly registered hundreds of births of Amerindians in these areas, the GRO said. Students from both campuses of the University of Guyana undertook, as part of their course work study, to ensure that children from needy families in regions Four and Six obtained birth certificates.

In 2003, with a view to correcting under registration in indigenous communities in regions One, Seven Eight and Nine, the GRO staff undertook to ensure that requests from every village for registration and certificates were brought to the register office for processing and certificates returned to each village.

In addition, in February 2005, Plan International, one of the world’s oldest NGOs launched the Universal Birth Registra-tion Campaign with a call for governments worldwide to significantly in-crease efforts to achieve birth registration and for every citizen to be in possession of a birth certificate by 2015, through decentralizing the registration process and raising public awareness on birth registrations, its process and benefits.

A birth certificate is an individual’s first personal identification and proof of one’s nationality that enables admission to school, to acquire photo identification (s) and to pursue academic vocation. It is also proof, if age is critical in ensuring prosecution in sexual offences and the prevention of early employment and child marriages.

All births in Guyana are required by law to be registered regardless of the parent/s legal or marital status.

There is no timeframe to register births but different systems are in place for children under one year old and for those one year and older.

Birth registration is free as stated in the Registra-tion of Birth and Death Act (Chapter 44:01). Persons whose birth was never registered are urged to contact the GRO locat-ed in Robb Street, Georgetown.

More information can also be obtained from its website http://gro.moha.

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