The Ministry of Health and Sanitation in collaboration with its partners, Births and Deaths Division, Plan-Sierra Leone, UNICEF, Christian Brothers and HEAL-SL on Wednesday 11th September 2013 met in the Conference Room of the ministry to briefing the media practitioners on the status of the Universal Birth Registration (UBR) Project in Sierra Leone.
Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Mr. Abass Kamara said birth registration is part of the fundamental rights of a child and a proof of legal identify as a citizen of its country of birth.
He said it allows someone to access the most basic services and exercise fundamental human rights in his/her country of origin. Birth registration according to Mr. Kamara is an important tool to protect children from abuse, exploitation, violence, discrimination and child labor, conscription to armed forces, sexual exploitation and child marriage and most importantly child trafficking.
He revealed that registering a child after birth is one basic pillar for that child to enjoy support through access to basic services such as education, health care and protection from all forms of discriminations. He said without a birth certificate, citizens are normally faced with difficulties in seeking employment and also to legally obtain travelling documents and voting access.
The PRO assured that government with the help of an accurate and up-to-date birth registration data will provide crucial statistics that could be used to develop priority plans and to further allocate resources more effectively and efficiently.
In a PowerPoint presentation on Universal Birth Registration Project in Sierra Leone, the ministry’s District Medical Officer for Western Urban, Dr. Joseph Kandeh said the status of birth registration services in Sierra Leone is challenging, despite the Birth and Deaths Registration Act No. 11 of 1983 makes registration compulsory with penalties prescribed.
According to him, the Act mandates every child to be registered immediately after birth, with all the rights to a name and nationality and to be cared for by his or her parents.
Dr. Kandeh said the Act stipulates that all children should be registered within 30 days of delivery, adding that Sierra Leone can now boast of over 1,222 health facilities across the country where birth registrations can be done.
Deputy Chief Registrar at the Sierra Leone Births and Death Division, Mr. Richard B. Konie also dilated on some of the challenges faced by the Division. He used the forum to call on government and health partners to continue supporting moves aimed to address some of these challenges.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.