School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Strengthening civil registration in Fiji for better health and social equity

Fiji CRVS Group image

Dr Christine Linhart, researcher, teacher, and Masters course convener from the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, is working with local collaborators to strengthen the civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) system in Fiji, especially data on births, deaths and causes-of-death.  

Civil registration establishes the existence of a person under law and is the fundamental means of being granted a legal identity, such as a Birth Certificate. Without a legal identity, it is very difficult, and most often impossible, for a person to enrol in primary school education, obtain a passport, or access social security and many other critical community services. 

"Real-time, accurate data on births, deaths and causes-of-death are crucial for monitoring population health, identifying health priorities and evaluating the impact of health programs," says Dr Linhart.

"Strengthening the CRVS system will enable Governments to better plan for and develop programs and policies important for child protection, education and social security, as well as identify and allocate appropriate resources for key health priorities," she says.

In recent months, Dr Linhart has facilitated CRVS Committee meetings in Fiji with representatives from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Health, Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of Women and Children, Ministry of Education, Ministry of i-Taukei Affairs, Ministry of Communication and the Department of Police. 

"We are undertaking an assessment of the current CRVS system, and drafting the Fiji 2020-2022 CRVS Action Plan with targeted actions to strengthen the CRVS system in Fiji over the next two years. These recent stakeholder forums have garnered invaluable understanding and insights into how the system functions and will inform the Action Plan," says Dr Linhart. 

As part of the Action Plan, Dr Linhart will be involved in evaluations of recently implemented initiatives such as the parenthood assistance payment, which is tied to birth registration; the recently launched mobile phone app for birth registration; and an evaluation of the medical certification of causes of death. 

"By strengthening civil registration, and the systems and data that enable it, we can have a positive impact on health policies and programs, and ultimately, health and social equity around the world," says Dr Linhart. 

Key local collaborators on this work are the Pacific Community (Gloria Mathenge) and the Fiji Births, Deaths and Marriages Office (Kamni Naidu) in the Ministry of Justice, as well as the Fiji CRVS committee representatives.  

 

Dr Christine Linhart has worked in research and teaching in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine since she joined in 2011 as a research assistant. Her research been primarily focused on the Pacific Island Region, ranging from trends in non-communicable disease risk factors, the topic of her PhD, to reproductive and maternal health, and to her current focus on CRVS systems and the broader strengthening of statistics for development. Christine is co-convenor and teaches several courses in the Master of Public Health and Master of International Public Health. For more about our Masters program click here

 

Photo: CRVS Committee meeting held in Suva, Fiji in March 2020 with government and other key stakeholders (source: Gloria Mathenge, SPC) 

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School of Public Health and Community Medicine (SPHCM)