For the first time, counting every life is possible—even in the world’s most remote locations. Leadership in countries worldwide, advances in systems thinking, demographic analysis and digital technologies are informing accelerated improvements to civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems, which are at the foundation of good governance.
Well-coordinated CRVS systems have the unique power to benefit every individual and inform public policy simultaneously. Behind every vital statistic is a person, a family and a community. While having a personal identity is a given, possessing a legal identity is not. A legal identity is conferred through civil registration systems—which aim to register every birth and death and assign causes of death.
With universal access to legal identity and the means to prove it, children and adults can access government services. At the same time, with complete data, governments can account for their entire populations in public policy development and planning—including for groups previously left out of official statistics. The civil registration and statistical analysis of deaths and cause of death provide data unavailable from any other source. Knowing how many people die and what they die from should be at the root of evidence-based policy priorities—creating the environment for a country’s population to live longer and healthier lives.
The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals call for 100% of births and 80% of deaths to be registered globally by 2030 — recognizing the importance of civil registration and its part in building an equitable and healthier world. Empowering every human to be seen, to be acknowledged, is at the heart of this effort.
The #CountingEveryone campaign was created to inspire those in positions of leadership and authority to champion the improvement and scaling of CRVS systems to the benefit of all, and to foster the kind of inter-sectoral coordination inherent in effective CRVS governance. The campaign shines a light on the role that leaders, leadership and coordination are playing in accomplishing country-level improvements to CRVS systems around the world.
Bangladesh has pursued the growth of its CRVS system using a strategy of making registration as easy as possible for individuals. Frontline medical workers and other community-level workers are now empowered to assist families to register births and deaths.
In just a few years, the country’s pilot model led to a ten-fold increase in completeness of birth registration, and an increase in death registration from two to 71 percent in areas where the system was originally implemented. With some adaptation, this model has been scaled across the country. One key adaptation has been to link civil registration targets to annual performance assessments of certain civil servants.
CRVS is a right, and the foundation of rights.– Mustakim Billah Faruqui, Registrar General of Birth and Death Registration in Bangladesh
The success of Bangladesh’s CRVS system improvements can also be attributed to CRVS system champions at all levels of government—from the high-level policymakers and political leadership to the technical and operational personnel implementing change at the local level.
Meet two CRVS champions from the Government of Bangladesh: