Uganda has one of the highest fertility rates, estimated at 5.97 by a World Bank 2014 report. An estimated 1.4 million babies are born every year with few of them registered, and even fewer issued with birth certificates. The Uganda Health Demographic Survey (UDHS 2011) reported that only 30 out of every 100 children aged 5 years and below, had had their birth registered.
The importance of birth registration includes proof of identity (name, sex, nationality, parentage) and age, to facilitate access to social services, such as education, health and protection. In addition,itfacilitates protection from violations affecting children’s rights such as child trafficking, sexual abuse, family separation, child marriage, child-labor, and to uphold juvenile justice. Adults too have countless benefits.
Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), states that, "The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality, and as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents".
In Uganda, the government office mandated by law to oversee the registration of births and deaths and adoption orders effective 1stJanuary 2016, is the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA).
Mobile Vital Records System (Mobile VRS) was developed under a public private partnership between Uganda Telecom (UTL) and Government of Uganda, with support from UNICEF, to address the bottlenecks in a paper based system, and to play a vital role in streamlining, simplifying and decentralizing delivery of births and deaths registration services in Uganda. Mobile VRS enables the use of a web based application and mobile phones (USSD) to register births and deaths in health facilities and communities respectively.
For deliveries outside health facilities, mobile phones are used by Notifiers to send via USSD, births and deaths notifications from the community level to a central Mobile VRS server at NIRA. This information is accessible to the respective Registration Officers of a given registration area, who verify it for completeness and consistency,before a birth certificate is printed, signed and issued to the registered child.
For deliveries in hospitals, birth records of new born babies are registered using a web-based system positioned at the hospital and their birth notifications are printed and issued to them immediately, while at the same time uploading this information into the central Mobile VRS server in real time.
To learn more about birth and death registration, please click here