Legal identity eases access to healthcare

LINEO MABEKEBEKE

Maseru – In some countries, birth registration is taken for granted as a norm following childbirth, while in other countries, it is a critical step missing to establish a child’s legal proof of identity. Without it, children are invisible to their governments, missing out on their rights to be protected, as well as on essential services like healthcare and education, the minister of Home Affairs Motlalentoa Letsosa has said.

The Ministry of Health also plays a key role in that a significant number of births and deaths occur in health facilities therefore notification of births and deaths are important. Letsosa said patients also need documentation to prove enrolment in important programmes and other safety nets that cover medical expenses. This he revealed during the Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Day (CRVS) celebration that was held in Qacha’s Nek district, in the Ha-Sekake community this week, highlighting that identification is crucial for the efficient and effective delivery of health services and public health management.

He also appealed to women to strictly give birth at the health facilities so that their children are registered immediately to avoid any inconveniences. The director of National Identity and Civil Registration, Napo Khoele, said not only is birth registration a fundamental human right but it also protects children from illegal adoption. Khoele said having all the legal identities is an important human right that enables individuals to exercise their rights.

UNICEF representative Mr. Deepak Bhaskaran said every person has a right to be recognised as a person before the law, highlighting that it is everybody’s responsibility to have a legal identity to ensure and re-affirm that legal identity, from birth to death, is a key human and civil right.

He said this year’s theme brings an opportunity to see what progress the country has made and Lesotho has all the right to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 16.9, which is to provide legal identity for all. In the last two years, he said Lesotho has made progress in the CRVS, where the ministry of home affairs has developed a strategy, for making civil registration accessible for all.

“However, as we have all seen, because of COVID-19, a lot of systems have been failing, and that includes the civil registration process,” Bhaskaran added. Registration plays an important role in guaranteeing that relevant government stakeholders effectively take on their roles and responsibilities, and unite around a single, comprehensive multi-sectoral national civil registration and vital statistics strategy.

It is imperative that all levels of government are engaged in the process of establishing political commitment and developing a comprehensive multi-sectoral national civil registration and vital statistics strategy. Africa CRVS Day is celebrated on August 10 every year, to increase public awareness on the importance of timely registration of vital events, particularly births and deaths, through well-functioning civil registration and vital statistics systems.

Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Day was set on August 10 by the Executive Council of the African Union at its 32nd ordinary session held in Addis Ababa on 25 and 26 January 2018, as a vehicle to enhance advocacy on the importance of civil registration and vital statistics systems for the continent’s growth.

Lesotho has no national coordination mechanism that works on CRVS systems on behalf of the government. The ministry of Home Affairs, through Department of National Identity and Civil Registration (NICR), is responsible for the registration of vital events.

The Ministry of Development Planning, through Bureau of Statistics, is responsible for production of and dissemination of vital statistics, while the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftainship takes part in events that occur in the community, including an administrative role during burials and customary marriages. The judiciary is responsible for divorces as all divorces are handled by courts of law.

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