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17 May 2023
CRVS Champion – Mr. Neel Singh
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(Newsletter May 2023)

What is your current title and role?

I am currently the Registrar-General at the Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) Office. The BDM office is under the Ministry of Justice of Fiji. I have been in the position since January 2020 in the acting role and got substantively appointed in June 2020. Prior to my appointment as the Registrar-General I was the Acting Official Receiver from 2017-2021. 

The BDM office is directly involved in the registration of births, deaths and marriages, headed by the Registrar-General. We have 21 offices across Fiji to ensure that access to justice and registration is available to every individual regardless of their geographical locations.

I am honored and privileged to also mention that I have been elected as the Convener of the Pacific Civil Registrar’s Network (PCRN).

Can you please share with us a particular experience which highlighted the importance of CRVS to you?

As the Registrar-General, it gives me much pleasure and passion to have CRVS at heart and to ensure that improvements are made to the CRVS system in Fiji.

It is always great to work with people from different backgrounds and with different experience, to share ideas and opportunities.

I experienced the importance of CRVS during the COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Fiji. Given that Fiji does not have a National Identification, the Birth Registration Number (BRN) was used as one of the unique identifiers to identify people who received the vaccine or who were left behind. Here, the importance of having a birth certificate made a difference.

How are you currently involved in CRVS improvements?

Fiji, as a developing country, is doing its best to achieve universal civil registration. Fiji is one of the first countries to have conducted an in-depth quantitative inequality assessment of civil registration. The work was led by the Fiji Bureau of Statistics in coordination with other key stakeholders including BDM, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (and other key stakeholders), with support from ESCAP.

The information obtained from this assessment will be used to inform future research and policy interventions, to bridge gaps in registration between different populations in Fiji.

We are also about to submit a proposal on a project on the Assessment, Analysis and redesign of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems in Fiji. This project aims to support the government in strengthening its CRVS system by analyzing and possibly redesigning its CRVS processes.

Which advice would you give to others trying to improve CRVS systems?

The world is moving towards digital technologies, which provides an opportunity for governments to significantly improve registration rates and also enhance customer experience. We need countries to move towards online registration of births and issuing birth certificates online as well.

One must start from somewhere when it comes to digitization. I urge every country to carry out a proper business process reengineering, and to digitize records as these hold critical data which dates back to 1800’s. Every country should aim for complete civil registration so that ‘no one is left behind’.

 

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