The United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) has expressed worry over the alarming low level of birth registration in Nigeria as about 62 per cent of children were given birth to outside health facilities.
Child Protection Specialist,UNICEF, Sharon Oladiji, said this in Kano at a two-day Media Dialogue on birth registration.
Oladiji noted that if advocacy was strengthened at state level, it would support birth registration.
She said the importance of birth registration to national development could not be overemphasised as it enabled the government to evolve the right policies.
She, however, decried a situation whereby only about 40 per cent of women accessed healthcare facilities, which she said was a major problem in birth registration.
“When women don’t visit the healthcare, how do you expect them to register, or how does the government know the number of schools to be built, projects to undertake and health workers to employ.
In 2016, registered birth under age one is 2,519,071, which translated to 51 per cent of the estimated birth in the country.
“But in 2017, it is reduced to 7,066 birth registration out of the 4,758,812 expected births under one year.
It is, therefore, worrisome that in 2018 the performance of birth registration is only 32 per cent of the expected 7million births. This shows that all the states have low registration,” the Child Protection Specialist said.
Earlier, the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Lai Mohammed, said there was need for widespread media campaign to enlighten and create awareness in homes, communities and at all levels of government on birth registration.
Mohammed, who was represented by Olumide Osanyipeju, Head of Advocacy, Child Right Information Bureau in the ministry, said the low awareness of birth registration had resulted to lack of planning.
“The low level of awareness on the importance of birth registration has resulted in lack of planning for children and improper capturing of this important segment of our society in developmental and social processes that affect them.
Workable solutions to this general weak knowledge can begin right from the homes and communities and through a wide spread media campaign aimed at creating awareness at all levels of governance and civil society,” he said.
He added that the media campaign would drive demand for birth registration services and promote increased knowledge on the importance of birth registration.
He commended UNICEF for their contributions, support and partnership with the Federal Government in ensuring that birth registration process yields the desired results.
The 18 states and the FCT with under-five population projections totaling over 20 million are being considered for integrated birth registration.
The states include: Adamawa, Kebbi, Niger, Borno, Jigawa, Bauchi, Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Sokoto and the FCT.
Others are Ekiti, Enugu, Ondo, Rivers, Oyo, Ogun, Benue and Lagos state.