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Mwila stresses importance of birth records

CATHERINE MUMBA, Chisamba
BIRTH registration is vital in the fight against child marriages, defilement and child trafficking, says Minister of Home Affairs Davies Mwila.
Mr Mwila said birth registration is proof of existence, particularly for children, as they cannot get complete recognition in the absence of information on their dates and places of birth and identities of their parents.
He said this when he launched the Central Province health facility birth registration campaign at Liteta Mission Hospital in Chisamba yesterday.
“A child without a birth certificate may, therefore, not be protected with regard to identity, child marriages, child trafficking, defilement, child labour, inheritance, health services and education,” he said.
Mr Mwila said it is also important to note that with the enactment of a new Constitution, matters of citizenship will be assessed in relation to a person’s place of birth.
He said birth registration should, therefore, be taken seriously because the State requires information on who was born within its boundaries and those that were born in foreign land.
Mr Mwila said it is unfortunate that for a long time, registration of vital statistics has not received the attention it deserves, especially in developing countries like Zambia.
He said this is evident from the low proportion of Zambians with birth certificates, including in urban areas where most births take place in health facilities.
“At a global level, it has been established that over 230 million children under the age of five are not registered. About 85 million of these children are in Africa, Zambia inclusive,” he said.
Mr Mwila implored stakeholders and members of the public to join the Ministry of Home Affairs in raising awareness of the importance of civil registration.
He commended the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for the efforts extended to the protection of children through support to the birth registration initiative.
And UNCEF country representative Hamid El-Bashir Ibrahim said birth registration is central to ensuring that children are counted and have access to basic services such as health, social security and education.
Dr Ibrahim said as a passport to protection, birth registration provides evidence of a child’s age, and can help government to address child marriage, exploitative labour and child trafficking.

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