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The Mother and Child Health and Education Trust



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Facts for Life

Child protection

Supporting Information


Every child has a right to a name and nationality. Registering a child's birth helps to ensure a child's right to education, health care and legal and social services. Birth registration is a vital step towards protection from abuse and exploitation.

Why it is important - All key messages - Resources

Birth registration provides an official record of a child's existence and nationality. It is considered a fundamental human right. A child without a birth certificate can be denied health care, legal services, access to school and the right to vote upon reaching adulthood.

Registering a child's birth is a vital step towards her or his protection. Children under age 5 with a birth certificate are more likely to be immunized and receive health care for childhood illnesses, assuring them a healthy start in life.

Any enforcement of minimum-age legislation depends upon an official record of a child's age. For example, a birth certificate can be used to protect a child from illegal recruitment by armed forces or armed groups, from child marriage or from hazardous forms of work.

Birth registration should be free and accessible for every child. Where it is not, civil society organizations can sometimes assist families in registering their children.

The birth registration process may be supported by social services, such as health care and education. Health centres and hospitals sometimes have civil registrars on site that can provide a child's birth certificate at birth or during a health-care visit. Registration sometimes takes place in early childhood education programmes.

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