The Federal Government has charged journalists in the country to propagate the issue of birth registration for children under age five to assist government at all levels to plan for the kids.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed gave the charge in Lagos today at a Media Dialogue on Birth Registration organised by the ministry in collaboration with the United Nation Children Fund (UNICEF).
He said this will assist in ensuring that children are planned for in social services such as health insurance, immunization, national identity, child health services, education, community planning and population projection.
Represented by Deputy Director in the Ministry who is also the Head of Advocacy on Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB), Mr Olumide Osanyinpeju, the minister urged the media to work assiduously to develop clear messages that will sensitize and inspire people to take the desired action on birth registration.
He tasked the media to intensify their reportage in promoting the issue of registration of children when and where they are born and within the first year of their life when parents bring the children for immunization services.
“In the bid to ensure that this issue is brought to the door step of every Nigerian, it had become imperative to include a communication component and give a voice to the programme in order to help tackle the low level of awareness and poor knowledge that exist amongst our people towards birth registration.”
“This process began last year; communication messages and materials were developed in print and electronic, pretested within identified participant groups in selected communities in the South, East, West and North.”
He said 20 million under-5 children in 18 states and the Federal Capital Territory are being considered for the integrated Birth Registration uptake approach, using the 2017 under-five population projections, state peculiarities, funding window and geo-political zones.
The minister said the states include Adamawa, kebbi, Niger, Borno, Jigawa, Bauchi, kaduna, katsina, kano, Sokoto, Ekiti, Enugu, Ondo, Rivers, Oyo, Ogun, Benue, Lagos and the FCT.
His words “at the stage we are now, there is need for widespread media campaign to enlighten and create awareness in our homes, communities and indeed all levels of government of the need to improve Birth Registration coverage in our society, especially in the rural areas where a lot of babies are delivered outside the hospitals.”
“In this regard, we are calling on the media personnel to use your stories and reports to create massive awareness and enlighten the people on the need for registering the birth of their children, with the aim of also tackling the weak knowledge base on the importance of birth registration, thereby creating the desired social and behavioural change we expect to see in the manner our people perceive the intervention.”
“The general weak knowledge base must be met right from the homes and communities and through a widespread media campaign aimed at creating awareness and demand for birth registration services.
“Integrating birth registration services into health care delivery points must remain an ongoing basic service programme between National Population Commission and health care delivery actors.”
“Your engagement and airing of birth registration messages should be designed to guarantee outreach to millions of unreached population with weak knowledge base on the importance of birth registration. You will be expected to employ multi-use of programme formats during the campaign.
“It is against this backdrop that we need to develop materials for media campaign in order to enlighten and create awareness in our homes, communities and all levels of government on the need to improve birth registration coverage in Nigeria, especially in rural hard to reach areas.”
“In the light of the foregoing, I urge you to bring to bear, as usual, your technical expertise and experience as you develop story angles that will help propagate the essence of birth registration, and cause the desired change we expect to see in our people concerning this intervention”, the Minister stated.