SOUTH AFRICA:Early Birth Registration Improves Service Delivery

September 2016 SAnews; Limpopo Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba has urged parents to register their babies at birth with the Department of Home Affairs to help government in its planning so it can better deliver services to communities.

MEC Ramathuba visited Seshego Hospital in Polokwane on Wednesday on a media tour organised by Brand SA and the Department of Home Affairs. The visit was aimed at profiling the importance of early registration of birth.

“This is a very important programme for us because we will plan knowing the exact population we are servicing. It will improve service delivery. We want to vaccinate [children] as prevention works better,” she said.

She said early registration of birth is important because it ensures the credibility of the South African population register. She said it is difficult for various departments to render services benefit children if they do not have birth certificates, including social services, educational opportunities, health services and others.

The Department of Health said children without birth certificates are often unjustly treated and are often vulnerable to protection risks such as trafficking, child labour, child marriage, illegal adoption, sexual exploitation and in some instances, recruitment into armed forces.

MEC Ramathuba made an example of a 10-year-old she met, who was not in school because she did not have a birth certificate.

“Right now, we do not know how many babies are out there [in Limpopo]. When I stock vaccines, I do not know how many vaccines must be stocked. Sometimes I have to stock vaccines for children under six months of age, but I don’t know how many children are there of that age in the province.

“If the early registration of birth programme can function effectively, I will know very well how many babies and their ages. For us to never run out of stock for vaccines, we must know how many babies we have. If the stock ordered is not be the correct amount, it means some babies will not be vaccinated.

“Our aim is to ensure that all diseases [are eradicated],” she said.

The MEC said early registration will also assist the department to investigate which clinics did not vaccinate children as well as mothers who did not bring their children for vaccination.

To curb non-registration of babies in Limpopo, the MEC said Home Affairs officials are allocated space in Seshego Hospital and other health facilities to register babies online immediately after birth and are issued with an unabridged birth certificate.

The Department of Home Affairs said Limpopo has 47 health facilities that are connected online out of 391 health facilities that are connected nationally.

“There are about 40 Home Affairs offices that register births [in the province],” said the department.

MEC Ramathuba said this makes it easy for mothers, who qualify for their children to get social grants, to apply sooner, as the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) officers are also deployed at hospitals.

Registration of child birth within 30 days is free and a certificate is available on the date of registration. However, fees are applicable in the case of late registration of birth.

Challenges to early birth registration

Factors that impact on birth registration within 30 days include:

  • Delays in registration of children who have been separated from or who have lost their parents;
  • Religious and cultural beliefs and practices on the naming of the child;
  • Home births and inadequate statistics and information about them;
  • Accessibility of children living in remote rural areas and farms;
  • Accessibility of border-lying areas and informal settlements; and
  • Children born to non-South African citizens that are in the country illegally.

Birth, Marriages and Death Registrations Director in the Limpopo Home Affairs Department, Dr Aaron Ramodumo, said upon registration, mothers who are married can give the particulars of the father of the baby, which will be captured on the system.

However, if they are not married, they can provide the father’s information with his consent.

Dr Ramodumo reiterated that it is important to create a credible National Population Register with birth registrations, from cradle to grave.

“We cannot register you at death if we did not register you at birth,” said Dr Ramodumo.


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