Sun | May 26, 2019

Thousands of unregistered inner-city residents get birth certificates

Published:Wednesday | June 6, 2018 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines/Gleaner Writer
There are thousands of uncollected birth, marriage and death certificates in storage at the Registrar General's Department offices islandwide.

Since January of last year, more than 3,500 residents of 18 inner-city communities - the majority of whom were born prior to bedside registration in 2007 - have received birth certificates free of cost, allowing them access to basic social services.

This was made possible through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) and the Registrar General's Department (RGD) to provide assistance to communities under the JSIF-implemented Integrated Community Development Project (ICDP).

ICDP was implemented in May 2014 and is funded by the World Bank to the tune of US$42 million (J$5.3 billion) and will run through to May 2020.

"The identification of every citizen is compulsory if the Government of Jamaica is to effectively deliver services to its citizens," Mona Sue-Ho, JSIF social development manager, told The Gleaner yesterday.

The JSIF-sponsored Community Services Fair held in the 18 communities facilitates access by the community to service providers including the RGD.

In addition, 60 data collectors were deployed throughout the 18 ICDP communities to facilitate ongoing registration, as well as to access those who were unable to attend the registration fairs because of disability and incapacity from age and other factors.

"The JSIF is committed to supporting citizens to access birth certificates, as it facilitates not only the establishment of an identity for each person but also enables them to exercise their right to access services such as education, health, social welfare and economic opportunities," she added.

Sue-Ho pointed out that the distribution was fairly even across communities but said that JSIF would be intensifying its efforts in the communities of Canaan Heights and York Town in Clarendon and Granville in St James.

"These communities are underserved due to a variety of issues, including low turnout for registration events, penetration of communities by data collectors, as well as the prevalence of cases where children are registered at the hospital but not named by their parents upon leaving the hospital," explained Sue-Ho.

She explained that these cases would require a Late Entry of Names, which can be lengthy because to the processing requirements by the RGD to verify identity.

The RGD-implemented bedside registration took effect in 2007 and involved parents simply selecting a name for the child at birth. An official free birth certificate was then issued between three days and six weeks later. However, prior to 2007, no such official system of operation was in place to govern the proceedings of child identification.