About fifteen women who gave birth at Mabvuku PolyClinic failed to access birth records today for their children after the administrator at the health centre demanded a payment of US5.00 or equivalent as ‘search fees’ to process the birth records.
The self-serving “penalty” of a search fee comes at a time when the same clinic has been failing to issue birth records citing non availability of birth record books which the women allege that it is a deliberate ploy to demand bribes.
“This request has been necessitated by the continued delay and postponement on the issuance of these important documents and demand of extra fees by some of the health personnel, a situation that has seen many children failing to access birth certificates”, reads part of the correspondence that was addressed to the Sister in Charge.
Despite the fact that the Health Director, Dr Chonzi has affirmed that the maternal fee registration is part of the payment for women who give birth in council clinics to access birth records the situation on the ground in Council Clinics is opposite which has seen scores of children without birth certificates.
This sad event comes at a time when the government intends to conduct a national mobile documentation blitz and the unavailability of birth records to many children will negatively impact on the outcomes of the programme.
The delay and refusal to issue birth records have negatively impacted heavily on children as they cannot access other national registration documents such as birth certificates which are key for school registration and access to passport for traveling outside the country.
The Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Honorable Kazembe is expecting that the mobile registration programme which intends to start in April will issue up to two million IDs and birth certificates
Access to national identification documents is protected and provided for in Section 35 (3)(c) of the Constitution and improved access to birth records will create fertile ground for the success of the much awaited mobile national documentation programme.
The Combined Harare Residents Association calls for urgent intervention by the government to ensure that birth records in local council clinics are accessible and the dubious searching fee must be removed as it has become a tool of extortion, promotion of corrupt practices and contributing to failure to access birth records in Council clinics.
We further implore the government to expedite putting in place an electronic online system at all local health centres that is integrated with the Registrar General’s Office which will see birth certificate application processes initiated at local health centres.
CHRA bemoans the continued lack of political will to address these post-natal maternal health services that has implications on the future of children.
Source: Combined Harare Residents Association