Limpopo Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba has urged parents to register their babies at birth with the Department of Home Affairs.
This will help government in its planning so it can better deliver services to communities.
MEC Ramathuba was speaking during a visit to Seshego Hospital in Polokwane. The purpose of the visit was to highlight the importance of early registration of birth.
“This is a very important programme for us because we will plan knowing the exact population we are servicing. It will improve service delivery. We want to vaccinate [children] as prevention works better,” she said.
She said early registration of birth is important because it ensures the credibility of the South African population register. She said it is difficult for various departments to render social services, educational opportunities, health services and other services that benefit children if they do not have birth certificatess.
The Department of Health said often children without birth certificates are unjustly treated and vulnerable to risks such as trafficking, child labour, child marriage, illegal adoption, sexual exploitation and, in some instances, recruitment into armed forces.
The MEC said early registration will also help the department to investigate which clinics did not vaccinate children as well as mothers who did not bring their children for vaccination.
To curb non-registration of babies in Limpopo, the MEC said Home Affairs officials are allocated space in Seshego Hospital and other health facilities to register babies online immediately after birth and to issue an unabridged birth certificate.
The Department of Home Affairs said Limpopo has 47 health facilities that are connected online out of 391 health facilities that are connected nationally.
“There are about 40 Home Affairs offices that register births [in the province],” said the MEC.
This makes it easy for mothers, who qualify for their children to get social grants, to apply sooner, as South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) officers are also deployed at hospitals.
Registration of child birth within 30 days is free and a certificate is available on the date of registration. However, fees are charged in the case of late registration of birth.
Challenges to early birth registration
Factors that impact on birth registration within 30 days include:
- Delays in registration of children who have been separated from or who have lost their parents
- Religious and cultural beliefs and practices on the naming of the child
- Home births and inadequate statistics and information about them
- Accessibility of children living in remote rural areas and on farms
- Accessibility of border-lying areas and informal settlements
- Children born to non-South African citizens who are in the country illegally.
Birth, Marriages and Death Registrations Director in the Limpopo Home Affairs Department, Dr Aaron Ramodumo, said upon registration, mothers who are married can give the particulars of the father of the baby, which will be captured on the system.
However, if they are not married, they can provide the father’s information with his consent.
Dr Ramodumo reiterated that it is important to create a credible National Population Register with birth registrations, from cradle to grave.
“We cannot register you at death if we did not register you at birth,” said Dr Ramodumo.