KINGSTON — Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Registrar General's Department (RGD), Dr. Patricia Holness, said the agency has yielded significant savings from its bedside registration programme.
Under the initiative, implemented in January 2007, the agency conducts registration of births at the bedside of the mother, and the initial copy of the birth certificate is issued free of cost.
Dr. Holness informed that the initiative has significantly reduced the costs associated with the processing of late registration and late entry of names, which, respectively, amount to more than $5,000 and $3,000. She informed that a number of applications for late entry has fallen to less than 200.
“To process a first free birth certificate (from bedside registration), we by-pass the customer service representative; we by-pass the application process; we no longer have to go into our vaults to check the records, because the same system that would record the data for civil registration and vital statistics is the same department that we have used to allow that data to go into production,” Dr. Holness explained.
“So we have saved… millions of dollars by introducing first free birth certificates, and the whole matter of bedside registration,” she stated at the launch of the agency’s newly established interactive voice response (IVR) service on Tuesday August 16 at the Courtleigh Hotel, New Kingston.
The CEO said that the initiative also provides the added benefit of capturing all births occurring in the country, since more than 98 per cent of the country’s births occur in private and public hospitals and birthing centres.
She informed that more than 168,000 registrations have been completed since the programme's inception, which represents 99.9 per cent of all births over the period.
“It means that a large number of our children are already named (and) already registered and, additionally, it has improved the number of fathers, who have added their particulars to the child’s record, so the child will carry their surname,” she said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Holness disclosed that the agency is currently conducting electronic bedside registrations in several institutions. Noting that the initiative “works”, she informed that it will be officially launched and fully implemented shortly, adding that the RGD's staff, who will administer this activity, are currently undergoing training.
The IVR is an automated technology feature, which facilitates interaction between the RGD and its clients via landline and cellular telephones, using pre-recorded voice prompts. The facility enables persons to track the status of applications made for birth, marriage and death certificates, among other provisions.
By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter