A ceremony marking the launching of a national birth registration campaign was held this morning in Punta Gorda.

Paul Mahung reporting....

During the ceremony held at the Punta Gorda Hospital Compound, the welcome address was given my Mayor Floyd Lino. In her main address vital statistics Unit registrar general Velda Flowers said.

Velda Flowers - Statistics Unit Registrar General

“Today we have launched an initiative to encourage and assist in obtaining our objective of a hundred percent registration of births in Belize. It is important for persons to have a nationality. Registration of birth occurs within a country is fundamental to its social and economical development of its people and a country in a whole. It is a right for all persons born in Belize. Today, we are launching this initiative to try to ensure that registration of births is being done and hence we will also be accepting and assisting in the completion of application for registration for new births and late registration. And our main objectives today rarely are to distribute birth certificates which we have here in Toledo to those persons for some reason or the other has failed to collect their birth certificates. It is important to mention that it is the responsibility of parents to register their child as soon after birth as possible.”

Mrs. Flowers also commented on what is being done to help in the registration process.

Velda Flowers - Statistics Unit Registrar General

“We have partnership with the Ministry of health and we have a Memorandum of Understanding in which we include various structures to assist in this early registration process and part of this effort includes the establishment of registration births in the different hospitals in the different districts. We have made provisions to deal with this issue of certificates and registration of births in the rural and remote areas which will put us into effect and will assist us in alleviating some of the problems encounter in getting births registered and getting certificates to persons who have applied for them.”

Mistress of ceremony, UNICEF Communication Officer Ana Hoare commented on the involvement of UNICEF and birth registration campaign partners.

Ana Hoare - UNICEF Communication Officer

“We are launching this campaign ‘Make your child count’ in Punta Gorda Town and subsequently we launch it in each district. This campaign will target parents that have unregistered children under the age of eighteen to be registered with the goal of achieving one hundred percent of registration in Belize. Right now thousands are all registered therefore we do need parents come and register their children so that they can get their certificates. It is really important that children be registered because that is one of their basic rights to have their identity and their nationality.”

Other speakers included NCFC Executive Director Pearl Stewart, the Belize Social Security for Registration Maria Contreras and Minster of Health National Surveillance Officer Inglebert Emmanuel. The National campaign to increase birth registration in Belize is being held under the theme “Make Your Child Count”.