By Scholastica Joseph, Makurdi
Worried by the low 0-5 Years Birth registration record in Benue state,National Population Commission, NPC, with support fromUnited Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has organized a one-day stakeholders’ engagement with religious, traditional and community leaders to address the trend.
Speaking at the event, UNICEF’s Child Protection Specialist, Enugu Field Office, Mr. Victor Atuchukwu, said the importance of data to proper planning cannot be over emphasised urged all stakeholders to ensure adequate registration of children under the age of five years for proper documentation and social welfare planning.
Addressing participants from Ushongo, Gboko, Tarka, Konshisha and Buruku LGAs, Mr Atuchukwu explained that the event was organized to ensure strengthened collaboration and partnership towards improved under-5 Birth registration service delivery in Benue.
He said records from the Nigerian Demographic Health Survey, NDHA, 2018, shows that out of the Benue’s population, only 39 percent of under five children were registered.
He said out of that number, only 21.7 percent registered with the NPC while only 16.9 percent have their birth certificate.
He also disclosed that while about 63.4 children have their births registered in private hospitals and clinics with 7.2 percent registered with local government authority, 7.6 percent others registered with other authorities.
“Some registered with the Church during Baptism and have Baptism cards only. Others have hospital notes and papers. We need to educate them to register with appropriate authority.
The UNICEF’s Child Protection Specialist stated that his organization is very passionate about the welfare of Children assuring that they would continue to partner with the state for the good of Benue children.
“We must play our part to ensure that this lapses does not erode the benefits our children should have gotten through proper registration and planning by government because government can only plan with available data.”
He also appealed to the NPC to rise up to its responsibility to ensure that all children in Benue State are duly registered saying, birth registration is important for the survival, health, education, social service delivery of the Nigerian child.
Earlier, State Director of NPC, Mr. Stephen Tsemende, while welcoming participants, commended participants for availing themselves saying the Commission was not created to conduct census alone but to, among other responsibilities, register all the children born in the country.
He thanked UNICEF for the support and passion for the welfare of Benue Children and assured that at the end of the meeting, more people will be sensitized and more children will be registered.
Commissioner of Health and Human Services in Benue, Dr. Joseph Ngbea who was represented by Director of Public Health, Terna Kur also commended UNICEF and NPC for the collaboration saying the Health Ministry is happy to support such initiatives that would further enhance government’s efforts at harnessing proper healthcare service to the people of the state.
Stakeholders who spoke to our correspondent after the event said they would create awareness in their domain using the church, market square, village meetings among other social gatherings, on the need for all parents to register their children with the NPC.
Some stakeholders from Ushongo LG, Theresa Nyityo and Blessing Tivzua assured that they will mobilise and sensitize all the women in their church and market to ensure that all children born in their area are registered.
“We in this part of Benue villages are far behind in birth registration. I will volunteer this information wherever I go,” Nyityo said.
Another stakeholder from NKST Church, Tse Agbaragba, in Konshisha LGA, Godwin Inienge, promised to create awareness in his church and community to encourage more birth registration in his area.