Free First Birth Certificate Initiative a Success – Dr. Holness

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), Dr. Patricia Holness has expressed satisfaction with the success of the Free First Birth Certificate Initiative, which was launched on January 1, 2007.
Speaking at a press briefing, yesterday (March 8), at the Terra Nova All Suites Hotel in Kingston, Dr. Holness noted that as a result of the initiative, “the challenge of having a large number of children without a name at the time of registration is really behind us”.
“The incidents of late registration have been significantly reduced and the persons who are coming forward to have late registration carried out are usually those persons who were born during the 1980s and before,” she added.
Reviewing the statistics for the period, Dr. Holness informed that for the first month, the number of fathers who added their particulars to the child’s birth record at the time of registration increased from 46 per cent to 67 per cent.
Additionally, she noted that the number of children registered with a name increased from 79 per cent to 94 per cent, while the number of children born and registered in the same month increased from 70 per cent to 100 per cent. The number of certificates applied for at registration increased from 44 per cent to 100 per cent, as a direct result of the initiative.
Meanwhile, Dr. Holness noted that the RGD would be placing several of its registration officers in hospitals and birthing centres to facilitate the registration process. “Our registration officers will also visit the various private hospitals and birthing centres islandwide, to ensure that we capture that particular event,” she added.
Commenting on the need for parents to ensure that they register the name of their child, the CEO emphasized that, “the right to a name and an identity is one of the most basic human rights available to an individual”.
“Apart from being an acknowledgement of an individual’s existence, birth registration plays a key role in realizing a number of rights and practical needs, including access to healthcare and education,” she pointed out.
“With certificates now being produced for all births registered with a name, it is expected that every child wishing to enter an early childhood facility will have his or her birth certificate available,” she added.
Dr. Holness also noted that the RGD would see a reduction in the number of applications made for Late Entry of Name.
“While we are pleased with the progress of the free birth certificate initiative, we are still concerned about the children who are scheduled to enter basic school within the next two years,” she said.
“The RGD conducted another electronic pull from our data base and there are some 10,000 children born between September 1, 2004 and December 31, 2006, who do not have a name recorded at the RGD,” she informed.
However, the Registrar General further noted that this figure is subject to change as children who are under one year old, may still be named at the registration centre using a Certificate of Naming form.
“We are encouraging parents to submit these to the Local District Registrar as early as possible,” she said.
Since becoming an Executive Agency in 1999, the RGD has embarked on a number of public education campaigns to ensure that Jamaicans are aware of the importance of completing the birth registration process.
During the month of May, which is recognized as Registration Month by the RGD, the agency will be embarking on a massive mobile registration campaign at more than 20 health centres across the island in an attempt to close the naming gap.

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