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CIVIL REGISTRATION AND VITAL STATISTICS

IN ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

Overview

An inclusive civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) system ensures that everyone counts and is counted. It protects human rights, empowers individuals, and promotes sustainable development through proof of legal identity, age, and social relationships, and inclusion in vital statistics.  

In recognition of the importance of CRVS, governments proclaimed the Asian and Pacific Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Decade, 2015–2024 to achieve the shared vision that people in Asia and the Pacific will benefit from universal and responsive civil registration and vital statistics systems facilitating the realization of their rights and supporting good governance, health and development. To implement this vision, the Regional Action Framework on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics in Asia and the Pacific was developed.

This report looks at the progress made by countries in achieving the three goals of the Regional Action Framework, namely:

  • Goal 1: Universal registration of births, deaths and other vital events
  • Goal 2: All individuals are provided with legal documentation of civil registration of births, deaths and other vital events, as necessary
  • Goal 3: Accurate, complete and timely vital statistics (including on causes of death) are produced based on registration records and disseminated

These goals are measured through 15 nationally set targets, decided upon by countries.

It is encouraging that regional progress has been made against the targets. The percentage of births registered is rapidly increasing in countries which had low birth registration rates at the beginning of the Decade. Similarly, for death registration, there was significant progress among countries with previously low rates. However, death registration rates remain much lower than those for birth registration.

During the COVID-19 crisis, the need for registering all deaths and accurate reporting of causes of death became even more critical. 

Deaths not attended by medical practitioners are particularly unlikely to be registered, and even less likely to have a medically certified cause of death . Among reporting countries, only one in three deaths had a medically certified cause of death. Some countries partially fill the gap using verbal autopsy to identify the likely cause of death for a sample of the population. Furthermore, even when there is a medically certified cause of death, the quality of the reporting varies, with countries committing to reducing the use of ill-defined codes for causes of death. Getting the data from civil registration analyzed and disseminated is crucial. Countries have committed to producing vital statistics based on civil registration and releasing them on at least an annual basis. However, despite progress, at least 17 countries are yet to do so.

While there has been significant progress, challenges still remain, and solutions need to be found. This report provides an overview of the current situation in the region working towards getting every one in the picture.

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