(Newsletter March 2023)
CRVS Champion: Treta Sharma
Each month, our community newsletter puts a spotlight on one person who has gone above and beyond in their efforts to support CRVS programmes, raise awareness of CRVS issues or lead CRVS improvement efforts in Asia-Pacific. This month we are happy to highlight Ms. Treta Sharma from Fiji who is the Chair of the Regional Steering Group for CRVS in Asia and the Pacific.
What is your current title and role?
I am currently the Administrator General for the Ministry of Justice Fiji. I have been in the position from May 2022 in the acting role and got substantively appointed in September 2022. Prior to my appointment as the Administrator General I was the Registrar of Titles leading the registration of land, titles and deeds in Fiji.
I am lawyer by profession with almost 12 years of experience in the work field post admission to the High Court of Fiji.
The Ministry of Justice Fiji has legal registries such as the Births, Deaths and Marriage office, the Official Receivers Office, the Companies Office and the Registrar of Titles office. My position oversees the legal registries for the Ministry of Justice at strategic level and reporting to the Permanent Secretary for Justice.
In relation to CRVS, the Births Deaths and Marriage office is directly involved in registration of births, deaths and marriages headed by the Registrar General. We have 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 mention here that I am the chair of the Regional Steering Group for CRVS in Asia and the Pacific.
Can you please share with us a particular experience which highlighted the importance of CRVS to you?
As the chair of the CRVS RSG for Asia and the Pacific, it gives me much pleasure and passion to have CRVS at heart and to ensure that there are improvement to the CRVS, which ultimately would contribute the achievement of the joint vision from 2014.
As the Chair, I reiterate that we all must work together to improve civil registration and vital statistic for Asia and the Pacific.
It is always great to work with people from different backgrounds and experience and share ideas and opportunities.
I believe there are many countries in the region which need guidance and assistance and we all must stand with them. We can share experiences and best practices to improve civil registration.
During my experience in the civil registration field, I notice that we are resource constrained. We don’t have enough resources (equipments) to take part in outreach programmes and we don’t have enough staffing to take services to the public during busy periods. These are important to achieve results and improve service delivery. I am looking at working on improving and equipping BDM officers in the near future.
How are you currently involved in CRVS improvements?
Fiji as a developing country is doing its best to achieve universal civil registrations. With initiatives such as the Parenthood Assistance Programme in 2019, 99% civil registrations rates were achieved for that cohort. The initiative was provided to assist the low income earners who gave birth mainly for child rearing and for education when the child reaches 5 years of age. Such initiatives when rolled out, creates pressure on BDM registry and at the same time improves registration.
The BDM registry is supported by online registration; however the digitization is very limited. Staff still needs to verify computer records with manual records. We have a mobile application for birth registration. The customer can enter data; however for collection of birth certificate and verification of information he or she has to visit the BDM office.
We wish to digitize the marriage and death records as well as achieving another level of digitization. Our aim is to ensure that customers can view their personal records from the comfort of their homes in years to come.
These would be possible if we are able to overcome resource and financial constraints.
Which advice would you give to others trying to improve CRVS systems?
One has to start from somewhere when it comes to digitization. I urge every country to carry out a proper business process reengineering, digitize records as these are critical data which dates back to 1800’s. Every country should aim for 100% civil registration so that ‘no one is left behind’.
Improved customer service and improved awareness are key to achieving better civil registration results. These are essential for any Government as well as ultimately achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 2030.
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