ICM/ICN Birth Registration campaign.

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The ICM and the International Council of Nurses (ICN) jointly launched a new toolkit at the Women Deliver conference, London, October 2007.

In a session at 'Speakers' Corner', ICM Deputy Director Bridget Lynch and ICN Director of Development and External Relations Linda Carrier-Walker, spoke of the huge significance of registration. An unregistered baby may be omitted from programmes of basic healthcare such as immunisation, miss early schooling and grow up to lack the right to vote, to own or inherit property, to get married--or even to receive a death certificate. For unregistered children in a community which suffers war or unrest, who may get separated from other family members, their chances of being reunited are drastically reduced if there is no official record of their existence.

In the long term, regional and national governments cannot know how many babies are born if they are not registered, and therefore do not have data on which to plan services in health, housing and education.

Current statistics show that up to one-third of births in the world are not registered, although each country has a system of registration. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, agreed by the United Nations in 1989, states that 'Every child has a right to a name and nationality'.

The new ICM/ICN toolkit 'Birth Registration: Identity--Every Child's Right' is designed for use by midwives and nurses, and offers advice and ideas for how they may--at local, national and international levels--work to increase the number of birth registrations. Debrah Lewis explained the simple recommendations in the kit, which urge healthcare providers to raise awareness of the benefits of registration and to lobby for improved systems which make the procedure accessible to all. She also drew attention to the words in the kit:

'Nurses and midwives have an ethical as well as a social...

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