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Birth certificates to eliminate child marriages—Gomani V

Paramount Chief Gomani V has said the rollout of birth certificates would eliminate cases of child marriage in the country.

Gomani said this in Ntcheu District when Malawi joined the rest of Africa in commemorating Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) Day on Saturday.

“In the absence of birth certificates, it was hard to ascertain the age of a girl by just looking at her stature. The challenge these days is that children are growing fast. You will find that a young girl is looking like a grown-up. The situation is even complicated when parents lie about the age of their child.

“However, with birth certificates, this will be a thing of the past as traditional leaders would be demanding certificates before allowing people to proceed with marriage,” Gomani said.

The marriage age in Malawi stands at 18 years.

His sentiments come at a time the government has been piloting the birth, marriage and death certificate programme in Ntcheu District with support from partners such as Centre for Disease Control (CDC).

CDC Country Representative, Andrew Auld, said, since 2015, his organisation had injected $3.5 million in the CRVS initiative.

He was hopeful that the programme would achieve its intended purpose.

“If the Government of Malawi decides to demand national IDs [identities] for one to access health services, which we think is an important policy to have, the CVRS will ensure that children are accessing services using their birth certificates. This will also mean a patient’s medical record will be accessible wherever he or she chooses to seek services in Malawi.

“In addition, birth certificates can be used for identifying children in schools, which would help the education sector deliver quality services,” Auld said.

Homeland Security Minister, Nicholas Dausi, urged mothers to have names of their children handy when going for delivery.

Dausi said the National ID project would help the government to identify real Malawians and effectively budget for the provision of social services.

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