African Union

10/18/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/16/2021 18:19

What Women Want

A fully-functional and complete CRVS system provides real-time data and is the gold standard for measurement of mortality in a population which is crucial during the pandemic. Data on new cases and deaths on a daily or weekly basis has been critical to show the trends and impact of the pandemic. Therefore, there have been heightened expectations of national statistical systems to provide data needed to manage the crisis including its socio-economic effects.

The following factors are guide the building of resilient civil registration and vital statistics systems in Africa that provide innovative, integrated and decentralized services for the post-COVID-19 period.

  1. Leadership in transformation

The development of robust civil registration systems is a multi-sectoral undertaking that requires the participation of a wide range of stakeholders including, first and foremost, members of public. Critical to improvements in that regard are robust governance mechanisms, strong technical and political leadership and effective coordination among governmental and non-governmental stakeholders.

Accelerating progress towards universal civil registration and the establishment of integrated identity management systems will accelerate progress on over 70 targets across the 12 Sustainable Development Goals. Establishing integrated identity management systems requires a whole of government approach, backed by political support for a coherent and coordinated response across multiple government systems.

  1. Innovation

Civil registration and vital statistics systems must harness the potential of widely-available innovative technologies. The use of mobile phones in data collection and management, for example, has significant potential to enhance the operational efficiency of civil registration systems across Africa, and is widely-viewed as a game-changer. Furthermore, the roll-out of automated services can reduce the face-to-face interaction required in order to obtain vital event certificates, while moving to online applications for birth and death registration can increase efficiencies by reducing the number of intermediary administrative steps that must be completed. Indeed, digitalization of a wide range of processes, from notification to certification has huge potential for transforming slow, passive, and reactive civil registration systems that depend on in-person attendance into systems that are resilient, proactive and agile.

  1. Integration

Countries whose civil registration and vital statistics systems are closely linked to their health sectors have been able to continue providing services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some countries have been able to draw on their networks of health facilities and community-based health workers to provide documentation of the occurrence of vital events and to fast track notifications to the civil registrar. Designating health facility staff as informants who can complete vital event notification forms and share them with the civil registrar will help to ensure that key information on vital events is recorded. Maternal and child health services can be leveraged to capture data on births occurring at home when children are brought to child health clinics for immunizations or to receive medical treatment. Furthermore, health personnel should ensure that all children receiving treatment or immunizations have been issued birth certificates. Registrars working at health facilities can also capture vital events as they occur. This is particularly cost-efficient when there are large volumes of vital events to be registered.

  1. Decentralization

Decentralization addresses the three most important challenges that impede the operations of traditional civil registration and vital statistics systems, namely the long distances that individuals sometimes need to travel in order to reach a registration centre, the fact that a second visit to the centre is sometimes required to obtain a certificate (or indeed a third visit if a child is born at home), and paper-based processing and record keeping.

One of the key recommendations stemming from the comprehensive assessments of civil registration and vital statistics systems that have been undertaken by numerous African countries has been to increase the number of registration points through decentralization and, in the process, to delegate registration responsibilities to local authorities and national health systems.

Decentralization addresses those challenges by enlarging the scope and responsibilities of the public authorities involved in the registration process. Specific aspects of the registration process, such as notification of births and deaths, are delegated to local authorities and/or health facilities, with the civil registration authority maintaining a supervisory role and designing registration policies for the authorities responsible for delegated aspects of the process.