KINGSTON — Jamaica has become the first Caribbean nation to produce a Vital Statistics Manual, which streamlines components of its national civil registration and vital statistics system.
The manual, entitled: “Standard Definitions of Vital Statistics and Vital Events & Standards for Calculations of Vital Statistics”, was launched at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, on Tuesday June 28, at a function organised by the Vital Statistics Commission (VSC) and hosted by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ).
Established in 2003, the VSC was charged with ensuring that Jamaica’s civil registration and vital statistics system produces valid and reliable data that meet international standards. The VSC received support from various stakeholders, including the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which provided technical and financial support.
Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who launched the manual,said the Manual was in pursuance of his Government’s commitment to be part of the international statistics framework.
“We need to have available to us, constantly, statistics that are accurate, statistics that command confidence and that can be used in decision making and in a whole range of other purposes,” he said.
He added that Jamaica has an enviable track record in the gathering of data, but that there was room for improvement and a need to standardize the collection.
Expressing gratitude to UNFPA, Mr. Golding pointed out that the launch resulted from Jamaica’s adoption of the United Nations’ (UN) recommendations for streamlining statistics, and that Jamaica was committed to being a part of that international framework.
PIOJ Director General, Dr. Gladstone Hutchinson, said the publication was a major accomplishment for Jamaica and the wider Caribbean, adding that the implications for improving the civil registration and vital statistics systems were “far reaching”.
He said this was important, in light of efforts to ensure that reliable and up-to-date statistics are available, to facilitate monitoring of Jamaica’s development goals and improving its policymaking process.
“The document’s presentation style makes it accessible to those who work in the field, as well as lay persons with a passing interest. This will assist in creating knowledge, which will advance and enrich the exchange of ideas,” Dr. Hutchinson said.
Director of UNFPA’s Caribbean Sub-Regional Office, Geetha Sethi, noted the importance of collating accurate data to the national planning and service delivery, as well as for tracking progress.
She said that it is extremely important that vital events, such as births, deaths and marriages, are recorded using internationally established standards.
“We, at the UNFPA, are very pleased to have been able to support the development of this manual, which is a significant contribution to the Government’s effort to strengthen its data systems,” she said.
By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter