Ministers from across Asia and the Pacific today recommitted to increasing the number of national birth and death
registrations, with an emphasis on reaching the most vulnerable populations.
The second Ministerial Conference on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) in Asia and the Pacific, which began
on 16 November in Bangkok, concluded with a joint declaration highlighting the crucial role CRVS plays in enabling
governments and authorities to prepare for and respond to crises such as the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Across the region, more than 65 million children under the age of five still do not have their birth registered. Birth
registration is the first step to establishing one’s legal identity and without a birth certificate a person might be
denied access to education, health and other social protections.
“Many countries are close to registering all births and deaths, while others are rapidly closing the gap. Nevertheless,
we have yet to get everyone in the picture,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and
Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission of Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
She noted that the Ministerial Declaration shows continued commitments of the Asia-Pacific region to achieving universal
civil registration and, more importantly, includes key areas of action that will help the region progress towards its
shared vision in the second half of the CRVS Decade.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the importance of timely and reliable data on deaths and causes of
death, and the critical role of CRVS systems in ensuring inclusive access to vaccinations, healthcare and social
protection services in times of crisis.
“These last two years have been a tragic reminder of our inability to accurately count the human lives we lost during
the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no excuse for this,” said Dr. Samira Asma, Assistant Director-General for Data,
Analytics and Delivery at the World Health Organization (WHO).
Michael F. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies which supports the Data for Health initiative, noted that
reliable CRVS data is key to good policy and that governments are too often “forced to make critical policy decisions
and allocate scarce resources without good information.”
ESCAP and partners remain committed to supporting countries in Asia and the Pacific in implementing the Regional Action
Framework, which facilitates collaborative action at the local, provincial, national and international levels by
enabling multiple stakeholders to align and prioritize their efforts under agreed upon CRVS goals and targets.
Over 400 participants, including 40 government ministers, attended the virtual conference, which marked the mid-point in
the Asia and the Pacific CRVS Decade (2015-2024). The Decade serves as a time frame for realizing the shared vision that
all people in the region will benefit from universal and responsive CRVS systems to support their rights, good
governance, health and development.