Governments agree on steps to get every one in the picture

(L to R) Mr. Chowdhury, Acting Director, Statistics Division, Mr. Shun-ichi Murata, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Ms. Lisa G. Bersales, Chair of the ESCAP Committee on Statistics, and Dr. Isiye Ndombi, Deputy Regional Director, UNICEF East Asia and the Pacific Regional Office at the Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Ministerial Conference on CRVS in Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand. 28 August 2014

Photo Credit: Suwat Chancharoensuk

Revised press release issued on 1 September 2014

135 million children under the age of five in Asia and the Pacific have not had their births registered and 9 out of 10 people in the region live in countries with unreliable death statistics, leaving records incomplete and governments at a loss to plan for the current and future needs of their populations.

‘It’s time to get everyone in the picture,’ was the clear message from this week’s regional preparatory meeting ahead of November’s Ministerial Conference on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) in Asia-Pacific, where 32 countries came together to pledge their commitment to helping governments know their population and achieve inclusive development by bolstering country-level systems to register life events like births, deaths and marriages.

“CRVS is a critical development issue,” explained Mr. Shun-ichi Murata, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). “It is the basis for so many activities that are the core of inclusive, well-functioning and participatory societies, whether those are activities as obvious as a child going to school or being vaccinated, or as unseen as being included in the population figure that determines how much money is distributed to that child’s local government.

“By recording the cause of death, CRVS is also the foundation for us to use a human tragedy as an opportunity to improve the health and quality of life of subsequent generations,” he added.

The Chair of the Meeting, Dr Chandramouli Chandrasekaran, Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India, reaffirmed India’s vision to achieve national universal birth and death registration by 2020: “Through this vision, we can share our experiences in seeking to create a demand for CRVS and in strengthening capacity in establishing a sustainable system.”

Ms. Lisa G. Bersales, National Statistician and Civil Registrar General of the Philippines added: “Our shared vision is that of babies in Asia and the Pacific born in an environment which assures them of recognition of their legal identity and all the dignity and benefits that this recognition brings with it.

“We agree that this vision can be actualized by a universal and responsive CRVS system which records important life events in a person’s life from birth to marriage to death and other life events in between.”

In opening remarks, Dr. Isiye Ndombi, Deputy Regional Director, UNICEF East Asia and the Pacific Regional Office highlighted: “At first glance, many countries in Asia and the Pacific have high registration coverage, but after taking a closer look at registration by region, disparities become apparent.

“We need to encourage the use of innovations and harnessing the use of open source and inter-operable technology to reach the hardest to reach.”

The Regional Preparatory Meeting was convened by ESCAP from 28 - 29 August in Bangkok, in partnership with UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA, UNHCR, WHO, ADB and Plan International to review preliminary draft outcome documents to be adopted at the upcoming Ministerial Conference on CRVS in Asia and the Pacific.

Held under the theme of ‘Get every one in the picture,’ the first Ministerial Conference on CRVS in the region will take place at the UN Conference Centre in Bangkok from 24 to 28 November 2014. The conference will bring together ministers of interior, justice, health and statistics from across Asia and the Pacific to forge high-level political commitment for the improvement of CRVS systems. An expected outcome is an Asian and Pacific CRVS Decade for 2015-2024 will be declared.

For more information about the Ministerial Conference on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics in Asia and the Pacific, please visit: http://www.unescap.org/events/ministerial-conference-civil-registration-and-vital-statistics-asia-and-pacific.