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Digital Birth Registration Systems, Identity Technology Could Improve Child Health, Help Achieve UHC

CNBC Africa: Op-Ed: Protecting Africa’s invisible children, the case for birth registration and a digital identity
Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, and Henrietta Fore, executive director of UNICEF

“…[T]o achieve truly universal [health care] access will involve the strengthening and expansion of primary health care (PHC) in low- and middle-income countries. For example, … [t]oday, immunizations reach more children globally than any other child health intervention. Yet, despite progress in recent decades, we are still missing a large number of children. … [O]ne-in-five children in the poorest parts of the world who are still missing out are not just the last to be reached, they are by far the hardest to reach. … They are invisible to the health and welfare system of a country, not appearing in the often archaic, paper-based vital registration systems that certify births, deaths, and marriages. … Birth registration and the use of digital identity technology has the potential to bridge that gap, by ensuring that every child has a unique identifier that can be used for birth records, medical records, and education records that stays with them through life. … Beyond protecting children’s health, birth registration is capable of helping protect children’s futures. By linking into education and training services, we can not only achieve universal health coverage, but can also prevent the fifth child from becoming an invisible generation when they are older” (10/26).