Georgetown, Guyana - (October 21, 2019) Minister of Citizenship, Mr. Winston Felix, on Saturday, emphasized the importance of birth registration to residents of Khan Hill, Barima-Waini (Region One).
The Minister of Citizenship, who was among several Government ministers at a community meeting in Region One, said birth registration ought not to be taken lightly, as the document garnered from this process is essential to accessing health care and education and also gives a person their identity.
“It is important that the births of children [are] registered and when you register the birth you collect the birth certificate. The first certificate you get in this life is your birth certificate and it is a very important document. It makes you a person with an identity …you have a name. You can verify your name by your birth certificate. Next it gives you a nationality,” he told the residents.
Minister Felix moments before addressing this issue inquired from the adults present at the venue whether their children had birth certificates; most responded positively.
He said some residents of hinterland communities do not view birth registration as important and this is reflected in the low amounts of birth registrations and in other cases, when the children are registered, their birth certificates are not collected.
The Minister of Citizenship emphasized the usefulness of the birth certificate when children have to go to clinics to receive their vaccinations. He said that children without birth certificates can be taken advantage of.
“When children don’t have birth certificates, it exposes them to child labour and crime… men who take advantage on your girl children, with a birth certificate you can establish that this child is underage,” he said adding that a birth certificate can also prevent marriages which required parental consent.
“These are important issues which you need to consider. Ensure you children have birth certificates. If you don’t have it later on you [will] end up in problems. Some people need to get old age pension and they have to prove they are 65. If they don’t have the birth certificate, they have a problem,” he said.
Minister Felix informed the residents that according to the law, a mother has one year to register her child after birth. Following this, there is a process called late registration. The Minister advised residents against utilizing the latter option, explaining that it can be problematic if the person(s) who witnessed the birth is unavailable. He said sometimes officials will depend on school records, health centre records or consult the Toshao, a process which is tedious.
Meanwhile, residents raised several issues with Minister Felix, who in turn, informed that he will communicate same to the subject ministers to have the challenges addressed.
Subsequently, Minister Felix visited the village of Thomas Hill, located a short distance away.