Telenor, UNICEF bring mobile birth registration to Myanmar

telenor myanmar unicef birth registration
Image credit: Telenor Group

Telenor Group and UNICEF have signed a partnership agreement to bring their mobile birth registration pilot to Myanmar in a project endorsed by the government.

When the Mobile Birth and Death Registration (MBDR) pilot is launched in Mon State in southeastern Myanmar, it will allow midwives to enter birth and death registration on a smartphone application. Township health offices receive and register this information and issue certificates using a digitalized recording system instead of the previous manual method.

More than one billion people in the world today lack an official identity. The ability to prove one’s identity is crucial to social, political and economic inclusion and enables greater access to basic services such as healthcare and education. Changing this reality is a challenge, but also an opportunity to reduce inequalities on a huge scale, said Petter Furberg, chairman of the board for Telenor Myanmar and EVP, head of Emerging Asia for Telenor Group.

“By supporting the government’s civil registration system with UNICEF, Telenor Group and Telenor Myanmar focus on reducing inequalities by leveraging innovative digital services and connectivity to bring the benefits of e-government to the public,” said Furberg.

In addition to the financial support, Telenor Group will grant free data access to MBDR’s web-based platform and provide training to midwives on how to register information and manage the digital system.

“We enter this partnership having witnessed the results of a recent birth registration campaign in Myanmar that opened the door for children to go school and access other basic services,” said UNICEF representative to Myanmar June Kunugi said. “The support from Telenor Group will be a game changer in allowing UNICEF to support the Government of Myanmar to reach all children through establishing a digital vital statistics system.”

Although Myanmar already uses an electronic platform (eVR) to archive birth and death records at Union, State and Region levels, registration in townships is completed in paper forms. The agreement to extend eVR in Mon State is targeted to increase birth and death registration coverage, improve data confidentiality and security, and reduce the use of additional resources to fill, print and transport paper forms. The pilot aims to reduce the time it takes to receive a birth registration certificate from 3-6 months down to around one month.

The Myanmar pilot – which targets UN Sustainable Development Goal #10 – is based on experiences from a digital birth registration pilot carried out by Telenor in Pakistan together with UNICEF and local governments. By training local health workers visiting newborns for health check-ups to also register the births via a mobile app, the pilot saw an increase in birth registration of up to 90% in just six months. The project has been gradually scaled up, and the goal now is to register 700,000 children by end of 2018, covering a total of nine districts in Punjab and Sindh provinces. Telenor Group aims to facilitate access to identity for seven million people across its footprint by 2020.

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