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Vital Strategies Announces Campaign to Count Everyone, Everywhere

June 23, 2021 (NEW YORK) – Everyone should count. Yet 40% of deaths and 25% of births of children under age 5 are unregistered—hence uncounted—across the globe. Vital Strategies today announced the #CountingEveryone campaign, calling on leaders around the world to champion strong civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems to broaden the equitable coverage of registration around the world.

“An official record is taken for granted in many countries, but millions around the globe live and die without any proof of existence. The scope of this problem is staggering and is worse for women and those living in relative poverty. A legal identity unlocks access to basic services and protections,” said Dr. Philip Setel, Vice President, Public Health Programs at Vital Strategies. “Vital statistics based on registration data also give governments robust data to better allocate resources to address public health challenges.” 

More than 100 countries do not have fully functioning civil registration and vital statistics systems. Yet well-functioning systems serve as the gateway for exercising individual rights and play a critical role in people’s lives—from improving access to health care and education to guaranteeing the right to vote to furnishing data critical for policymaking in health and other sectors. CRVS systems also help monitor progress toward several U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, including the targets of universal birth registration and 80% death registration by 2030. 

“Every country should have an effective CRVS system,” said Samira Asma, Assistant Director-General, Division of Data, Analytics and Delivery for Impact at WHO. “COVID-19 has exposed glaring gaps in CRVS across all countries. We now have a unique window of opportunity and collective responsibility to rapidly scale implementation of the tools at our disposal. The SCORE for Health Data Technical Package has identified the gaps and solutions to precisely address them. Digitalizing CRVS and strengthening the health sector will accelerate progress and deliver impact in countries.”  

“The #CountingEveryone campaign calls on leaders to prioritize strategic improvements to their civil registration systems through strong governance and clear coordination,” Setel added. “This new campaign will tell the stories of real successes, highlight the work of champions and serve as inspiration for governments at all levels, in every corner of the world, to enact the system-wide changes needed to count everyone, everywhere.”

Featuring case studies from countries including Bangladesh, Colombia and Rwanda, the #CountingEveryone campaign is yearlong push to showcase bold leadership, strong governance and the benefits of clear coordination in building complete CRVS systems. The campaign will highlight government leaders’ efforts to champion the improvement of CRVS systems and make progress toward universal registration, and show the impact of these advancements on people across the globe. 

“I am proud to support this pivotal campaign, which has the potential to build political momentum toward fully functional CRVS systems in every country,” said Anir Chowdhury, Policy Advisor of a2i, Government of Bangladesh. “I have seen the tremendous strides made in Bangladesh toward counting every birth and death. Progress toward making every person count is possible everywhere, but not without prioritization by government leaders and close coordination among agencies.”

The #CountingEveryone campaign will be featured on social media and showcased at conferences and high-level events throughout the year to engage with leaders and motivate them to take action to improve these systems, paving the way to ensuring that all people are counted.

Counting every life is within reach for most governments. Country-level leadership, effective governance and coordination, innovative technology and proactive measures—including empowering community health workers to support the registration of births and deaths in rural areas—are essential to make this happen. These stories of success will be told through the #CountingEveryone campaign. 

The #CountingEveryone campaign was announced on June 23, alongside World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF at the virtual event “Improving Civil Registration of Births and Deaths: How Can the Health Sector Contribute?” The health sector is the largest single source of information on births, deaths and stillbirths. To increase the registration of vital events occurring in the health sector, WHO and UNICEF launched a guidance document, geared to low-income countries, to accomplish this purpose.

“Based on country experiences, enhanced collaboration between the health sector and civil registration system has been identified as one of the critical strategies for accelerating action toward achieving SDG target 16.9 ‘legal identity for all, including birth registration’ by 2030,” said Aboubacar Kampo, UNICEF Director of Health Section. “UNICEF, together with key partners, is at the forefront of leading global efforts to advance the UN Legal Identity Agenda. Central to this is strong civil registration systems that ensure a holistic approach to legal identity from birth to death.”  

As an implementing partner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative, Vital Strategies works with governments worldwide to improve national-level public health data systems and maximize the use of data to enhance public health policymaking. Under this umbrella, #CountingEveryone aims to engage stakeholders at high-level global events and conferences to advocate for the critical role of coordination and leadership in improving CRVS systems. 

In addition to UNICEF and WHO, Vital Strategies is joined in this effort by Data for Health Initiative implementing partners: the Global Health Advocacy Incubator, United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as by the UN Economic Commission for Africa, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. 

Vital Strategies and partners have developed tools for governments to identify and address gaps in CRVS systems, which can be found here. To learn more about Vital Strategies’ Data for Health programs, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org/programs/data-for-health/  

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The Data for Health Initiative is a global effort supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It provides technical assistance and grants to governments in low- and middle-income countries worldwide to improve public health data systems including civil registration and vital statistics systems; cancer registries; and data-driven policymaking and decision-making processes. Vital Strategies serves as an implementing partner.

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. We work with governments and civil society in 73 countries to design and implement evidence-based strategies that tackle their most pressing public health problems. Our goal is to see governments adopt promising interventions at scale as rapidly as possible.

To find out more, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat.

Media Contacts:

Kristi Saporito, ksaporito@vitalstrategies.org

Nicole Bohrer-Kaplan, nbohrer-kaplan@vitalstrategies.org

Christina Honeysett, choneysett@vitalstrategies.org