UN recognises Ghana’s birth registration app
Child and maternal health’s a healthcare priority for most African nations. Although many have made tremendous strides in reducing the mortality rates for moms and babies, thousands still die every year due to preventable conditions.
A new initiative’s underway in Ghana. Tigo, UNICEF Ghana and the country’s Births and Deaths Registry (BDR). They were recognised at the recent 71st annual session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly for their innovative mHealth application to make birth registration of children smart, quick and reliable. An article in IT NEWS Africa says the app was featured in a video presented to the Every Woman Every Child event on the margins of the session.
Every Woman Every Child’s a global movement mobilising and intensifying international and national action by governments, the UN, multi-laterals, the private sector and civil society to address the main health challenges facing women, children and adolescents. It puts into action the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, a roadmap on ending all preventable deaths of women, children and adolescents in a generation.
Ghana’s President, John Dramani Mahama, was there. He said “Lack of birth registration prevents us from knowing how many kids to register for school, vaccines, and quick dissemination of health information through mobile apps will reach more people in more areas, especially women. We can empower people widely by giving them access to education and resources, human development opportunities for all. We can do more to end hunger. Especially with mobile innovation that will push attainment of Sustainable Development Goals.”
Tigo’s Chief Executive Officer, Roshi Motman was there too. After the event, he said. “We are passionate about improving lives in communities in which we operate through the use of technology which is why we embraced the opportunity to collaborate with UNICEF on this initiative. We are excited about the impact this innovation will have in communities across Ghana especially in areas which are hard to reach.”
The automated birth registration system is an Android App customised for the Tigo Network. It operates offline and online, critical for rural communities where connectivity is challenging. Tablets use the app to collect data, such as children’s names, genders, dates of birth and other family details. They’re sent to the BDR’s central database.
Then, it’s stored and an automated response sent to the BD’'s local official, confirming that a certificate can be issued. Data collected though the paper-based system took up to six months to complete registrations in the central system. The mHealth app does it in less than two minutes.
At the end of the one year pilot, over 670,800 new births will be register on the new system. It’ll help to increase Ghana’s birth registration rate to 75%, up from 65%. It’s a big step in the right direction. The data provides critical insights into healthcare in the country, allowing officials to track and support moms and babies better.