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South Africa records 1M live birth registrations in 2022 with high rates in populated provinces

South Africa records 1M live birth registrations in 2022 with high rates in populated provinces

South Africa’s national statistics agency (Statistics South Africa, or Stats SA) has indicated that the rate of live birth registration in some of the country’s densely populated provinces was high in 2022 high, despite a number of challenges hindering the process.

According to the government agency in charge of producing and managing statistics, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) registered almost one million births in the course of 2022.

With an estimated population of 61.4 million, the country is said to have an average of 3,505 live births per day.

In its Recorded Live Births 2022 report released on December 13, Stats SA notes that a total of 998, 362 births were registered in 2022, with 91.3 percent of this figure representing births that happened the same year, while the remaining 8.7 percent of the registered births occurred in the previous years.

South Africa’s birth registration laws allow a 30-day legally mandated window for parents to register their children’s birth. As indicated by Stats SA, 70.8 percent of all the births that occurred in 2022 were registered within the 30-day compulsory period, which marked an increase from what has obtained in the previous years.

In emphasizing the importance of live birth registration, Stats SA underlines that the statistics “also serve as a critical indicator of maternal and child health and allows healthcare professionals and policymakers to assess the effectiveness of maternal healthcare systems and implement targeted interventions to improve outcomes for both mothers and infants.”

Per Stats SA’s ranking, the provinces of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal recorded the biggest number of birth registrations in 2022, respectively at 23.2 percent and 22.0 percent, with the Limpopo Province coming in third place with 12.4 percent. The lowest figures were recorded in the Provices of Free State (4.7 percent) and Northern Cape (2.5 percent).

The statistics agency believes there is need for parents to adhere to early live birth registration requirements because late registrations not only delay legal recognition for a child, it also has other “profound consequences.”

The agency notes at the same time that it’s also imperative for government authorities to address the challenges that stand in the way of seamless birth registration because the exercise is important not “only for legal compliance but also for ensuring that every child enjoys the rights and opportunities associated with official recognition from the very start of their journey through life.”

Stats SA also underscores the importance of live birth registrations, saying the 2022 data will serve as a “a roadmap for future efforts to enhance this critical aspect of societal infrastructure.”

There has been a legal challenge against South Africa’s birth registration system with plaintiffs accusing the DHA of holding unto cumbersome requirements, some of which are unconstitutional.

A couple of other African countries are also reporting progress in their birth registration efforts. Some like Nigeria are digitizing the process to make it more seamless and convenient.

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