JIS News

Shaniqua Chung, daughter of 22-year-old cosmetologist Marsha Clarke, was the first baby delivered in a Jamaican hospital in 2009. Baby Shaniqua was born at 12:02 a.m. at the Port Antonio Hospital in Portland.
“I feel very proud,” the first time mother told JIS News by phone from her hospital bed today. “The child’s daddy came this morning and he is also happy. The RGD (Registrar General’s Department) was here to register her,” she informed.
RGD’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Yvette Scott told JIS News that the registration process was completed before daylight. She said that staff “have been busy all day making sure that everything is alright at the hospitals as we complete our mandate to provide the first birth certificates to all children born in hospital in Jamaica free of cost.”
Miss Scott was present at the largest maternity hospital in the English-speaking Caribbean, the Victoria Jubilee Hospital in Kingston, where young D’Jaughn Andrae Brown made his appearance at 12:14 a.m. D’Jaughn is the first child of 22-year-old Sandria Davis and Damion Brown. The newborn did not seem to mind the media attention as the press descended on him with flashbulbs, video cameras, microphones and writing pads.
“I am so glad this is over,” an excited but exhausted Miss Davis said. “I am tired and glad. The child’s father was here earlier taking so many pictures. He is so happy,” she beamed, while D’Jaughn snuggled close.
Twenty-one year-old Shaneek Welcome, is the mother of the first baby born at the Spanish town Hospital. Her daughter, Carissa Chung, arrived at approximately 1:15 a.m. Miss Welcome was presented with a ‘Baby Book’ by officials of the RGD, including Communications Officer Hazel Cunningham.
She also received gift baskets from Kirk Distributors and Wynlee Distributors Limited.
The RGD began its Bedside Registration Programme at the island’s hospitals on January 1, 2007, and since then, more than 80,000 bedside registrations have been recorded.
Miss Scott said that the agency is now capturing information related to all hospital births, noting that before, less than 30 per cent of all births registered had names entered at the point of registration.
She expressed pleasure at the number of fathers, who are now coming forward to become part of the early registration process.
“When we began, the number of fathers whose particulars were added at registration stood at zero per cent. Now the figure stands at 56 per cent and counting,” Miss Scott boasted. “At the Victoria Jubilee Hospital, we have moved from zero per cent of children named at birth to close to 99 per cent named within days of birth,” she told JIS News.
Under the ‘Name the Children Initiative’ parents, who name their children at birth, receive the first copy of the certificate free of cost, within three months of birth. The initiative was launched to capture information on the thousands of unnamed children in the RGD’s system.
Registration of babies at birth is mandated by Article 7 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by 162 countries in 1989. The Convention stipulates that “each child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth, to a name (and) the right to acquire a nationality”.
Birth registration confers rights and privileges, such as the right to a name, a nationality and personal identity. Unregistered children usually do not have access to certain basic social services such as the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), and the National Health Fund.

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