Reliable civil registration systems and vital statistics are essential to the development of suitable and targeted government policies. Vital statistics provide legal identification to citizens, securing basic rights such as access to health and education services. They also serve the purpose of producing accurate population and health estimates, including number of births, deaths and causes of death. Governments equipped with such information are better positioned to effectively allocate resources, improve the implementation of social programmes, and monitor policies including those linked to the Millennium Development Goals.
Recognizing slow progress in the development of vital statistics in the Asian and the Pacific region and acknowledging the critical importance of accurate and complete vital statistics for policy planning, the ESCAP Committee on Statistics requested the Statistics Division, during its first session held in February 2009, to pay special attention to the improvement of civil registration and vital statistics in the region. At its second session held in December 2010, the Committee on Statistics endorsed a regional programme for the improvement of vital statistics in Asia and the Pacific presented by ESCAP.
Following the Committee’s mandate, ESCAP in close collaboration with other international partners such as WHO, WPRO, SEARO, UNDP, ADB and the Health and Information Systems Hub of the University of Queensland, has started a set of activities aimed at improving the state of civil registration and vital statistics in the region. As part of this effort, the Statistics Division is organizing a set of meetings and trainings, as well as advisory missions, to equip government officials with the skills and knowledge required to increase coverage and completeness of registration, and to improve the quality of data from the registration of vital events.