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General News
Government asked to abolish late birth registration fees 9/4/2007
Kpetoe (V/R), Sept.2, GNA-Mr. Iddris Abadallah, Child Protection Officer at UNICEF in Accra, on Saturday urged government to scrub late birth registration fee for new born babies in the country. He said families with scarce resources were often deterred by such fees resulting to nearly half of the country''s children being unregistered.

Mr. Abdallah was speaking at the Fourth National Births Registry Day celebration on the theme, "Universal Births and Deaths Registration-Key to achieving Ghana''s Millennium Development Goals," at Kpetoe in the Adaklu-Anyigbe District in the Volta Region. He said Ghana was the first country to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child at the First World Summit on Children in 1990. Mr. Abdallah said despite this, many Ghanaian children did not enjoy the right to national identity simply because their parents failed to register them within the first twelve months after delivery. He observed that birth registration rate continued to decline from 67 per cent in 2005 to 54 per cent in 2006 after successive years of increased birth registration in the country.

Mr. Abdallah said children born in rural areas were less likely to be registered than their counterparts in the urban communities adding that lack of birth registration exacerbated their poverty and underscored their marginalisation.

He advocated free registration of all children under the age of five within a defined registration period so that unregistered children in the country could be registered.

Mrs. Joyce Odame, Rights of the Child Coordinator of Plan Ghana, a child-centred community development organization, proposed that parents should allowed to register their unregistered children between the ages of 0-18 years free of charge as part of Ghana''s Golden Jubilee. She said this would enable the country to mob its backlog of unregistered children and facilitate the issuing of national identification cards.

Alhaji Awudi Yeremi, Deputy Minister for Local Government, Rural Development and Environment, said birth registration was the first step towards ensuring the rights of the child prescribed in the Children''s Act 1998 (Act 560).

He said the Ministry was committed to revamping the Births and Deaths Registry to enable it to generate timely and reliable statistical measurements about the country''s population to facilitate development-planning.

Alhaji Yeremi expressed worry about the practice where Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians were engaged in the use of fraudulent documents, of which the birth certificate was prime to obtain travel and other identification documents in the country. He said plans were far advanced to clamp down on such criminals with the introduction of the National Identification exercise. The Minster also condemned the common practice of people burring their dead relatives without registering them and said it was against the law.

He announced that registration of death within seven days after the occurrence of the event was free and urged the public to take advantage of it.

Alhaji Yeremi said the proper registration of births and deaths in the country would help give credibility to the country''s electoral register, ensure equitable distribution of national resources and "even arguments about the ages of our junior football team players and other sportsmen."

Mr. Joseph Kwaku Nayan, Deputy Volta Regional Minister, urged the Births and Deaths Registry to negotiate with the Ghana Heath Service to locate Registry offices close to labour wards of health facilities to ensure instant registration of births. Mr. Stephen Amoah, official of the Births and Deaths Registrar, said inadequate staff and logistics for monitoring and supervision and the non-existence of new offices in deprived areas were affecting the work of the Registry.

He urged all stakeholders to support the Registrar to enable it to continue to gather timely and relevant data on births and deaths. 2 Sept 07


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