Children countrywide are now being registered at birth using the mobile vital records system (MVRS), a new pilot technological innovation.
MVRS has been developed by the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) with the support of Unicef. The system uses internet connected computers in hospitals and mobile phones with internet connectivity. The phones are used in communities to send birth and death notifications into the URSB database. It registers the child's date of birth, name and parents' names.
One can only register birth or death using their phone on the MTN and UTL networks.
"To register using MTN, dial *156*162# while on UTL, it is *162# and follow the instructions," said Eva Kentaro Mugerwa, director of civil registration at URSB.
In the absence of internet connectivity, registrations can still be done offline, saved and later updated. The objective of this system, Bemanya Twebaze, the URSB register general, told journalists recently, "is to increase the percentage of children less than five years whose births are registered and issued with birth certificates nationwide from 21% to 80% by the end of 2014."
Twebaze added that the system has empowered URSB to monitor progress by geographical locations, and put it in custody of 1,287,714 records that can be verified online. At least 239,548 children, under the age of five, were registered between January and July 2013 using this mode, contributing to a 4.7% reduction in the five million unregistered under fives nationally.
Also, monthly registration across all age groups has increased from 13,956 in January to over 90,914 in July 2013. MVRS is currently being implemented in 135 hospitals spread over 30 districts. UBRS plans to increase this coverage to all 112 districts by end of 2014.