Mr Daniel Botwe, Minister of Local Government, Decentralisation, and Rural Development, has urged Ghanaians to register births and deaths to help the government make informed decisions on the socio-economic development of the country.
He explained that the government’s ability to make budgetary decisions and carry out policies that promoted economic progress was aided when accurate information about births and deaths was reported to Ghana’s Births and Deaths Registry.
Mr Botwe stated this in a speech read on his behalf by Mr Collins Ntim, Deputy Minister of Local Government, Decentralisation, and Rural Development, at a two-day stakeholders’ workshop in Koforidua on enhancing the coverage of death registration in Ghana.
The Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 2020 (Act 1027), provides for the registration of births, foetal deaths, and deaths in the country. Section 32(1) of the Act states that “A person shall not dispose of the body of a dead person who dies in this country unless the disposition is done in accordance with this Act.”
Section 34(1) also states, “The manager of a burial ground or any other disposition facility shall not permit the burial or disposition of a dead body in the burial ground or disposition facility unless a burial permit in respect of the dead body has been delivered to the manager or owner of the burial ground or disposition facility.”
However, it has been noted over time that these legal requirements are consistently broken without consequence and with impunity.
Therefore, Mr Botwe urged Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies to work with the Births and Deaths Registry to enforce legal provisions designed to halt haphazard burials in communities and stem growing disobedience.
“I would also like to inform you that the Births and Deaths Registry has not been left behind in the government’s digitalisation agenda,” he added. “The Registry enrolled its services on Ghana’s digital payment platform.
“This is in line with the commitment of our Vice President of to digitalise all payments for public sector services to ensure transparency and accountability of all revenues, thereby driving growth in all aspects of the country’s economy.”
The average coverage of deaths for the five years before 2017 was around 17 per cent, as compared to several burials always seen around, but by 2022, the record had improved to 30 per cent, according to Mrs Henrietta Lamptey, Acting Registrar, Births and Deaths Registry.
She said that to educate people about the importance of registering their deceased relatives, the registry was working with the Ghana Health Service, traditional authorities, religious leaders, and metropolitan, municipal, and district assemblies.
“Sometimes it’s even taboo to talk about death registration, but are we doing ourselves any good as a nation,” she quizzed. “We have to be out there to improve the data to inform national planning and development.”
The World Bank assisted the Ministry of Local Government, Decentralisation, and Rural Development, as well as the Public Sector Reform Secretariat, in organising the workshop.
Among the participants were representatives from the Ghana Health Service, Municipal and District Assemblies, the Ghana Statistical Service, religious organizations, and other organisations.
At the meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Births and Deaths Registry and each of the stakeholders invited to the workshop, outlining the roles of participants and the importance of birth and death registration to the public.
Ghana’s Births and Deaths Registry was established by Act 301 of 1965 to manage and expand the nation’s births and deaths registration system, but the act has since been amended to reflect contemporary times.
Its primary goal is to register and certify all births and deaths that take place in Ghana to offer accurate and trustworthy information for socio-economic development.