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February 2, 2021

Program Profile: Civil Registration and Vital Statistics

Everyone has the right to be recognized as a person under the law and to have a legal identity. Systems exist to gather critical data on a country’s population, such as birth and death registrations, which are then used to inform public health policies and decision-making. Accurate registration of the vital events that define an individual’s life helps to ensure that everyone has the ability to exercise their human rights and protects marginalized populations, including women and children.

Unfortunately, many countries do not have systems in place to gather this information, leading to half of all deaths and a quarter of all births worldwide not being registered. To collect accurate, reliable, and up-to-date data, a country must first have strong legal frameworks in place that reflect international best practices.

The Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), as an implementing partner for Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Data for Health Initiative (D4H), oversees legal reviews of low and middle-income countries’ Civil Registration, Vital Statistics and ID Management (CRVSID) systems, the systems that collect information on the vital events defining a person’s life. A CRVSID legal review identifies where a country’s existing CRVSID laws do and do not align with these best practices and recommends ways to bring them into better alignment. The core idea underlying the D4H Initiative is simple: better data on a country’s population leads to better health outcomes for that population.

GHAI, in collaboration with its D4H partners, developed the Legal and Regulatory Review Toolkit for CRVSID (the Toolkit). Attorneys use the toolkit to conduct legal reviews in their countries, based on the national political context and legal system.

In the coming year, GHAI will add an additional chapter to the Toolkit focused on Fetal Death, in line with the UN Guidelines on the Legislative Framework for Civil Registration, Vital Statistics and Identity Management.

Other GHAI programs, such as Road Safety and Food Policy, support advocacy work by local civil society organizations. In contrast, GHAI’s Civil Registration and Vital Statistics program works directly with government agencies on legal reform.

To date, CRVSID legal reviews have been conducted, or are currently underway, in Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Colombia, Ecuador, Ghana, India, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Zambia. New legal reviews were recently launched in Vietnam, Senegal, Cameroon and Thailand. GHAI aims to complete at least four CRVSID legal reviews, and to begin an additional four to six reviews, in 2021.