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Cabinet approves bill to decentralise births, deaths registration

BY: Chris Nunoo
Dr Mahamudu  Bawumia (right) being conducted round at the head office of the Births and Deaths Registry in Accra by Rev. Asare Addo
Dr Mahamudu Bawumia (right) being conducted round at the head office of the Births and Deaths Registry in Accra by Rev. Asare Addo

Cabinet has given approval to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to submit a Bill to decentralise births and deaths registration in Ghana to Parliament for consideration.

The objective of the bill is to provide for a more efficient births and deaths registration system in the country as well as decentralise effectively the births and deaths registration system.

Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, disclosed this when he paid a surprise visit to the head office of the Births and Deaths Registry in Accra yesterday.

He was conducted round the offices by the Principal Assistant Registrar, Rev. Asare Addo, who took him through the processes and records of the registry.

The Vice-President had the privilege to go through the 1912 register which contains Ghana’s first attempt at recording births.

The Bill

Dr Bawumia explained that the bill, presented to Cabinet by the sector Minister, Hajia Alima Mahama, among others, seeks to expand the births and deaths registration coverage nationwide and devolve the functions of births and deaths registration to metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs).

It also intends to ensure consistency of the births and deaths registration system with the Local Government Act, 2016 (Act 936).

Digitising database

While efforts by the registry, including public education, awareness creation and boosting the capacity of the registry had yielded an increase in birth registration coverage from 17 per cent in 2001 to an all-time high level of 80 per cent as of the end of 2019, this achievement is, however, still below the UN standard of 90 per cent coverage.

Vice-President Bawumia thus expressed his delight at the rapid pace of work on the digitisation of the paper records of the registry, which would allow for the integration of its database with other state agencies, thereby streamlining service delivery further.

“I am happy to learn that thus far, 80 per cent of the paper records have been digitised and we should see the process completed by the end of this year or latest early next year. When completed, the database of the Births and Deaths Registry will be integrated with that of the National Identification Authority (NIA) for the issuance of a single NIA number for everyone from birth to death.

“It is expected that this database will also be integrated into other agencies such as SSNIT and NHIA as part of ongoing efforts by the government to make the provision of public services easier,” he added.

Decentralisation

Briefing the Vice-President, Rev. Addo indicated that efforts were underway to ensure the establishment of a Births and Deaths Registry in every government hospital, as well as every district in the country as the 414 centres were not adequate.

He said several engagements had also taken place between the technical staff of the NIA and the registry to work out a smooth integration of records.