Poor data collection compromises developments

SHARE   |   Sunday, 08 February 2015   |   By Staff Writer
Majelantle Majelantle PIC: RICARDO KANONO

Statistician General Anna Majelantle has decried that Statistics Botswana faces challenges in compiling annual civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) due to poor data collection in different ministries and government departments.
She was addressing a pitso was held under the theme: positioning Botswana for the post 2015 development agenda through complete and reliable civil registration and vital statistics, in gaborone in December 2014. The Pitso was attended by amongst others dikgosi, organisation of african instituted churches, and sponsors UNICEF, UNFPA, AfDB. African countries have recently committed to developing civil registration and vital statistics to full potential to derive functionalities of the system from legal, administrative and statistical dimensions.
Majelantle said they can overcome the challenges through collaborations with health and other ministries to improve data collection. Majelantle was presenting at a pitso organised by the mininistriy of labour and home affairs, health and the administration of justice in Gaborone late December. Emphasising the importance of four vital events identified by UN as birth, deaths, marriage and divorce she said the provision of regular and timely information on size, growth of a population is critical. She said there is a need to establish a national committee to collect, intergrate and monitor information on statistics about individual citizens to provide guidance going forward. She said this could help arrest the escalating costs of household censors and surveys carried out by government over the years, which have become prohibitive.
Speakers at the pitso from different government departments were in agreement that CRVS are important for infrastructure development, fertility rate of the population and to monitor trends on social life using data on marriages and date at first marriage. Majelantle said also important is birth registration to ensure decreasing infant mortality by clsoely monitoring immunisation needs rates, which determines life expectancy and the health status of a population. With quality data, she said, mortality risks of dying for different age groups can be determined and can be used for insurance purposes. Information on birth and deaths can be used to determine rate of natural increase, which is important for national and local district planning, she emphasised.  
Presenting on the role of CRVS health information systems, designing and monitoring of health programmes, acting Permanent Secretary in the ministry of health Shenaaz El-Halabi said morbidity and mortality statistics is important for policy formulation and strategies to guide on resource allocation and to prevent further deaths. She said it is important for her ministry to know how many people die, where and from what causes to inform the procurement of commodities (bed nets) and drugs, problematic interventions and monitor trends in the health sector (morbidity and mortality) to evaluate the effectivesness of the interventions. CRVS also provide additional information on demographics e.g. sex of individual, deployment of personnel for Safe Male circumcission planning.
The assessment was carried out from October 2013 to June 2014 and four institutions responsible for the delivery of services for the four main vital events were involved. Statistics Botswana, Ministry of labour and Home Affairs, Administration of Justice and Ministry of Health collaborated in the assement. The civil registration system of Botswana has continued to play a critical role in the governance of the nation, from its inception almost a century ago, in 1918. Outlining the objectives of the pitso Kelebogile Kgabi- Deputy Permanent secretary in the ministry of labour and home affairs said the pitso was held to share the findings and recommendations of a comprehensive assessment of CRVS in Botswana and use the findings to craft five year strategic plan to accelerate improvement of Botswana CRVS. Further to position Botswana's civil registration and vital statistics to facilitate the country towards the implementation of post 2015 development agenda.
Dr Grace Bediako, the American consultant who undertook the comprehensive assessment  of registration of CRVS said the fundamental roles of civil registration are legal and protective aspects,  administrative aspects and statistical aspects.  "CRVS important for good governance, rule of law and human rights benefits but these cannot be fully enjoyed if statistics fall far below international standards. Although Botswana system is considered well advanced in African standards its performance falls short of the UN requirements for continuous, permanent, compulsory and universal recording of occurences. She however commended Botswana for taking initiatives to improve CRVS in the country through, for example the 2003 computerisation of registration of birth and deaths, the 2009 birth registration campaign and improving accessibility of registration. 
Giving a keynote address Victor Rantshabeng-Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Labour and Home affairs said CRVS are a crucial tool for administration of public service. He said statistics identifies the basic rights of individuals from birth to death. e.g. to assist government facilittate implementatio right to main social services.

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