Birth registration in Malawi

In the landlocked south-east African nation of Malawi, fewer than 40 percent of children are registered at birth, and a far smaller percentage have a birth certificate. This blocks their access to government services. That is why UNICEF is working to make children in Malawi visible before the law.

Mutter mit Neugeborenem in Malawi

Newborns who are not recorded in a birth register have no legal existence and are therefore at higher risk of exploitation, abuse and violence. Undocumented children also find it difficult or impossible to access public education and medical care, and the law also places obstacles in their path later on in life. Adults without a birth certificate cannot apply for passports, exercise civil and voting rights, open bank accounts, acquire property, inherit or officially travel. 

The problem:low reporting rates for births in health facilities. Only 22 percent of births in health facilities are reported to a government agency, and far fewer still are recorded promptly in the electronic birth registration system. This is a huge missed opportunity, because: 

  • About 90 percent of all births occur in the country’s 645 health facilities;
  • Antenatal checkups are conducted in more than 580 health facilities, where the message of birth registration could be emphasized;
  • Immunizations for infants up to the age of 9 months at these health facilities also offer opportunities to refer children for birth registration.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, UNICEF is therefore helping to ensure that the registration office’s institutional mechanisms are improved. For example, a community-based birth registration system is being introduced and the number of registration offices is being increased. In addition to important advocacy work, support is also being provided to the national registration office to develop a five-year strategic plan to register all children in three selected districts (Kasungu, Mzimba and Zomba) by 2023.

However, this is not possible without your support. Help us reach this goal and give the children of Malawi the prospect of a better future.

Birth registration in Malawi

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