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Over 5M Deaths Made Invisible By Lack of Birth Certificates, Lancet & UNICEF Say

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 20 -- There are over five million “invisible” newborn deaths and stillbirths every year, according to The Lancet, due to lack of birth certificate and recording systems.

On May 20 Inner City Press asked Joy Lawn of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in which countries the problem is the worst, and if the UN and its peacekeeping missions could do anything about it.

Professor Lawn said in Nigeria three-quarters of births are unreported. Given Boko Haram's mass abduction of over 200 girls, one wonders if this lack of birth records isn't some part of the problem. She said that in Bhutan the registration rate is 100% while in Pakistan it is 22%.

Kim Eva Dickson of UNICEF replied that in Rwanda, for example, there are moves toward electronic pregnancy registration, and text message reminders of pre-natal care visits.

An upcoming meeting was cited, to be held in Toronto involving Tanzania's Kikwete and Canada's Harper as heads of the “Committee on Information and Accountability.”

On that theme, Inner City Press asked also about the UN Communications Group Annual Principals Meeting which UNICEF is co-hosting May 20 and 21; UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said it is internal. Inner City Press on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access attempted a follow up -- previously UNCG meetings have dealt with topics like accreditation which impact the media and public -- but Dujarric declined the follow up. We will have more on this - here.


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