KRG digitalization drive with support from UNICEF

Digital birth registration to replace error-prone handwritten method

HARIR – The Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Health, with support from UNICEF, has started transitioning to a digital system for registering newborns since last August.

Harir Public Hospital has announced the adoption of the digital Civil Registration and Vital Statistics system, moving from manual to digital processes.

All hospitals providing maternity services across the Kurdistan region are set to adopt the new birth registration system.

The CRVS system records vital events such as births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and fetal deaths. According to the UN, civil registration is the “continuous, permanent, compulsory, and universal recording of the occurrence and characteristics of vital events […] in accordance with the legal requirements in each country.”

Harir Hospital is setting a 15-day registration period for newborns.

Dr. Nurjehan Ali, director of health in Shaqlawa, said all hospitals in Kurdistan would be connected, allowing “accurate data access.”

Previously, information was handwritten and sent to the Ministry of Health, leading to errors in data entry. Mohammed Bamoki, director of communications at Harir Hospital, stated the digital system would “ensure accuracy and improve data management.”

In 2015, the United Nations established a bold initiative aiming to ensure that all births and at least 80 percent of deaths would be routinely registered by 2030. However, it is falling significantly short of its targets.

Records are especially poorly kept for the most disadvantaged in society, including those not living in urban centres. Vital Strategies, a leading global public health organization, says: “The civil registration of births and deaths, including cause of death, offers basic benefits to both individuals and governments. Birth registration unlocks access to a host of rights, protections and services unavailable to those whose legal identity has not been established. Death registration benefits individuals by protecting survivors’ rights and legitimating inheritance.”

Globally, about 45% of women in low-income countries can’t prove their legal identity, and 40% of deaths are unregistered, often without a stated cause. In Africa, only one in 10 deaths is registered. Over 100 low- and middle-income countries lack fully functioning CRVS systems, leaving 25% of children under five unregistered at birth, according to Vital Strategies.

CRVS systems are essential for public health. They help track important events like births and deaths, allowing public health officials to monitor disease patterns, assess demographic health disparities, evaluate healthcare programs, plan for future needs, and make informed decisions to improve public health outcomes.