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As of January 1, 2007, the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) will provide one free first copy of the birth certificate for every child born and is registered with a name at birth.
The move is expected to result in significant savings for parents, who will only need to pay a $200 registration fee, rather than the $950 required for registration and the birth certificate.
Chief Executive Officer of the RGD, Dr. Patricia Holness, who made the announcement at a press briefing held today (Dec. 28) at the Courtleigh Hotel, said the process was aimed at encouraging parents to name their babies.
“We want to ensure that mothers are fully aware of the process of naming their children in hospital,” she said, noting that a free certified copy of the document, would also be provided for children not born in a formal birthing centre, but were registered within three weeks of birth.
Dr. Holness explained that to benefit from the service, parents were required to pay the $200 fee at the hospital. The registration officers, to be placed in every hospital and birthing centre across the island, “will conduct registration and have the information sent back to the main location at RGD, so that the certificate can be processed within three weeks”.
She informed that, “we have successfully visited over 34 locations across Jamaica and have had meetings with all our hospital and birthing centres so that we can be prepared to have this happened successfully.”
According to Dr. Holness, the project was expected to increase the RGD’s revenue base as more parents would be encouraged to pay the $200 fee and reduce or eliminate the incidence of Late Entry of Names for children born in 2007 and beyond. Staff now employed to deal with Late Entry of Names, she pointed out, “could now be re-routed to the area of production, where we are expecting a 10 per cent increase in demand for certified copies based on this new initiative.”
Dr. Holness said the RGD, over the years, had implemented a number of initiatives to encourage parents to name their children, including some 960 outreach meetings and visits to antenatal clinics by parish officers each year and the distribution of some 300,000 flyers and information packages on a regular basis focused mainly on naming children.
She informed that despite these efforts “only 27.8 per cent of parents name their babies in hospital, while another 37.5 per cent of babies are named at the local district registrar office within the first six weeks of birth”. Another 34.7 per cent of babies born, were not named within the first year of birth, she lamented.
Children, who are not named within a year of birth, would have to be named at the RGD through the Late Entry of Name and according to Dr. Holness, this process was very costly.
“It is a costly venture not only to the person, but to the country. Late Entry of Name carries a greater social cost and this involves children missing out on health care, education and being unable to access social facilities such as PATH (Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education),” she pointed out.
Meanwhile, she mentioned that the RGD would be encouraging parents to ensure that the relevant hospital fees were paid.
Dr. Sheila Campbell Forrester, Acting Chief Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health, called on parents to partner with the RGD and the Ministry to make the project work.
“Parents, must make sure your child is named before leaving the hospital. This will make it easier for the RGD to process your child’s birth certificate. We must remember that we have a duty to give our children the best possible opportunities available to them,” she stated.