Civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) capture data on vital events such as births, deaths, and marriages. It is critical for any government to adequately plan for improving the lives and health of its population. However, the timely notification and registration of these vital events have been a challenge for Eswatini. According to the country’s annual vital statistics report for 2021, over 10,000 births that occurred in 2021 were registered late.
In response to this gap, ICAP at Columbia University, with support from the U.S. President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), has been supporting the Eswatini government since 2015 to strengthen vital statics reporting.
Offering technical support for developing a CRVS strategy, ICAP first supported the development of a CRVS steering and technical working group committee to coordinate CVRS activities. The steering committee, which is responsible for high-level strategic guidance for implementing the CRVS strategy, consists of key government ministries and stakeholders involved in CRVS implementation, including the Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA), Ministry of Economic Planning and Development (MEPD), Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology (MICT), the Ministry of Tinkhundla and Administration (MTAD), and other key stakeholders such as UN partners and other NGOs.
Next, ICAP led the analysis and writing of the 2021 Annual Statistics Report and supported the MOH to pilot the documentation and reporting of medical causes of death in seven health facilities by creating a standardized international classification of deaths code, which aims to improve and standardize reporting of medical causes of death.
On CRVS commemoration day in Eswatini, celebrated on Wednesday, August 10, 2022, ICAP joined other stakeholders to launch the five-year Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Strategic Plan and presentation of the 2021 Eswatini Vital Statistics Report.
“The CRVS strategic plan for 2022 to 2027 is a major milestone toward strengthening the implementation of CRVS activities in the country,” said Ruben Sahabo, MD, ICAP’s country director in Eswatini, at the official launch of the plan. “The five-year plan provides comprehensive costed actions that outline priority activities, with indicators and milestones such as improving the infrastructure for reporting vital events, and training activities to strengthen CRVS activities in Eswatini,” he said.
Following the launch, government and partners will use the CRVS Strategic Plan to implement outlined activities, including an automated CRVS data system and other strategies to improve Eswatini’s CRVS records.
A major global health organization that has been improving public health in countries around the world for nearly two decades, ICAP works to transform the health of populations through innovation, science, and global collaboration. Based at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, ICAP has projects in nearly 40 countries, working side-by-side with ministries of health and local governmental, non-governmental, academic, and community partners to confront some of the world’s greatest health challenges. Through evidence-informed programs, meaningful research, tailored technical assistance, effective training and education programs, and rigorous surveillance to measure and evaluate the impact of public health interventions, ICAP aims to realize a global vision of healthy people, empowered communities, and thriving societies.