On 1st August 2015, the first electronic birth registration was done at Queen Elizabeth central Hospital
, approved by Blantyre Assistant District Registrar (ADR) and certificate printed at the National Registration Bureau Headquarters in Lilongwe. This marked the shift from relying on the manual forms which were introduced earlier in the year as the primary registration system. The electronic system has been developed by Baobab Health Trust with technical and financial support from NRB and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) respectively.
The system’s secret weapon is its ability to have a registration done at a facility, approved at a DC’s office and a certificated printed at the NRB headquarter within hours. According to Assistant District Registrar for Ntcheu district Peter Kacheche, the introduction of the system has tremendously reduced the turn around time of the birth registration process and has increased the capacity of NRB to respond to the demand and expectations of Malawians as regards to birth registration.
Birth registration is a human right issue and Birth registration in line with national identities for all citizens in Malawi is fast becoming a national priority. This is in support of the United Nation’s (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through its Goal 16, target number 16.9 which is calling for provision of legal identity for all, including birth registration with an aim of contributing towards strengthening of peace, justice and stronger institutions by 2030.
As part of managing the change and to ensure smooth transitioning to the new system . The electronic
System has been piloted in four hospitals across the country. The experience from these four district will feed into the future roll out model to all the facilities starting with facilities which register more births. However to ensure that all the districts are still able to issue birth certificates on demand all ADRs in the country have been given remote access to the system.
Responding to this development NRB Public Relations Officer, Norman Fulatila shared that “Currently, all districts except two are able to send records to the National Registration Bureau headquarters in the capital Lilongwe for printing. NRB has so far printed over 2000 birth certificates which have already been dispatched for distribution in various districts. There is also a huge demand for the same for people traveling abroad.
Printing of death certificates has equally commenced. This gives us confidence that an electronic system currently in use for birth registration will meet our needs as stipulated by law”.