Only 33 percent of children under the age of five in Pakistan are registered meaning that out of 23 million children, only 7.7 million are registered and approximately two out of three children do not officially exist in the country. This was pointed out by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Child Protection Chief Silvia Pastir, while addressing a seminar on Civil Registration & Vital Statistics (CRVS) at the University of Health Sciences (UHS) on Wednesday. The seminar was organised by the Ministry of Planning, Development & Reform in collaboration with UNICEF. UNICEF Child Protection Chief Silvia Pastir said that birth registration is more than just a right. “It is how societies first recognise and acknowledge a child’s identity and existence,” she said adding that birth registration was also key to guaranteeing that children are not forgotten, denied their rights or hidden from the progress of their nation. She emphasised that birth registration as an essential component of a country’s civil registry, also strengthened the quality of vital statistics, aiding planning and government efficiency. Ministry of Planning, Development & Reform Assistant Health Chief Dr Mirza Asad Ali Baig, said that CRVS systems were a fundamental function of the government. “The registration of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces and deaths is necessary for safeguarding human, legal, economic, social, cultural and democratic rights to which person is entitled,” he opined. He added that in recent years, the government had demonstrated increased commitment to social sector development and a comprehensive multi-sectoral CRVS strategy had been put in place. He said that in accordance with Goal 1 of the Asia-Pacific Regional Action Framework, Pakistan was committed to achieving universal birth registration by 2024 and by 2025, all people of Pakistan would benefit from universal and responsive CRVS systems that facilitate the realisation of their rights and support good governance, health and development. He said that Digital Registration System launched last year in Punjab and Sindh would go a long way in achieving positive results. CRVS Technical Adviser Dr SM Mursalin gave a presentation on various dimensions of civil registration system. He was of the opinion that a birth certificate could safeguard a child’s right to education, health, justice and protection from violence, early marriage and child labour. UHS Immunology Department Head Professor Dr Nadeem Afzal said that subject of CRVS was multidisciplinary in nature. He added that barriers to registering a child’s birth existed both on the supply and the demand side. “On supply side, there are factors such as lack of capacity in our institutions, lack of incentives for staff and technological barriers,” Professor Dr Nadeem Afzal explained. Published in Daily Times, July 19th 2018.