United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has decried the low birth registration in Nigeria, stating that more than 50 percent of the births of children under 5 remain unregistered in the country.

UNICEF, while lamenting that Africa has the lowest birth registration among all the continents, lamented that the births of 166 million children under 5 have never been recorded worldwide.

A statement issued yesterday by UNICEF noted that with only 44 per cent of children registered at birth, even as millions of deaths also go uncounted each year.

Nigeria alone accounts for 11 per cent of unregistered children in West Africa.

The statement noted that as Nigeria joined the rest of the world to commemorate the Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) Day yesterday, addressing structural, normative and operational challenges to birth registration should be on the front burner.

The statement emphasised that birth registration is a one-off event that gives every child a unique identity which will give them better access to vital services like health, education, and social protection.

The statement quoted the UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative, Peter Hawkins, to have said: “Every child counts, and we must ensure that we count every child so that they can best benefit from important services like health and education,”

He stressed that: “We need to work together to ensure effective coordination to make this happen. Functional systems that allow for the sharing of data across information management databases that are integrated with other vital services are necessary to push the birth registration rate in Nigeria up, and make sure every child is counted.”

Meanwhile, the National Population Council (NPC) has identified information and communication technology assets to support effective CRVS systems that are integrated with other governmental systems, such as health and identity management, to ensure the highest standards of data protection and confidentiality of personal data to promote birth registration among civil registration, health, and identity management systems.

Hawkins said: “Every child has a right to a name, a nationality and a legal identity. Working together, we can and must bring Nigeria to meeting its SDG obligation to provide a legal identify for all, including through birth registration.”

The statement revealed that the NPC in partnership with Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) entities with support from UNICEF co-created a roadmap for Digital Universal Birth Registration in Nigeria, which laid out a clear vision, delineates the roles of different government agencies, builds the government’s capacity to deliver, formulates an action plan, sets a timetable and milestones, and optimizes the cost of the digital birth registration process in the country.