These are the conclusions of Dr Philip Setel, MEASURE Evaluation, Carolina Population Centre, University of North Carolina, NC, USA, and colleagues, authors of this first paper in the Who Counts? Series in The Lancet.
Including debt relief, official development assistance globally reached $US 80 billion in 2004 – yet the authors say that absence of vital statistics means that there is “little authoritative evidence that these funds have their desired effects on either mortality or poverty reduction.”
Civil registration, including the medical certification of deaths and causes of death, together with the statistics they generate can benefit both individuals and societies. Legal documents that prove identity and citizenship not only provide access to state benefits or entitlements and provide the necessary documentary basis for establishing property ownership and inheritance, but also protect against exploitation or protracted hardship in times of emergency. The authors say: “The persistent failure to establish, support, and sustain civil registration systems over the past 30 years, and to ensure that causes of death are accurately known in the world’s poorest countries is a scandal of invisibility, for which affordable remedies exist and need to be implemented.”
The paper cites numerous cases that show how such data are central to policy formation. For developed countries as a whole, information on increasing rates of road traffic fatalities up to the 1970s led to speed limits, seatbelt laws, and laws on alcohol use and driving. The remarkable reduction in traffic mortality trends closely followed the introduction of these measures and has been seen in many studies. In India, birth monitoring data has allowed population progress to be monitored – and has also shed light on some objectionable ramifications of new medical technologies – such as revealing the extent to which female foetuses have been selectively aborted. Case studies of Chile (maternal and newborn health) and Tanzania (cause of death) are also analysed.
Risks of data registration are also explored. The authors say: “Unless identities are protected, this powerful instrument can be – and has been – used to do great harm to individuals and vulnerable minorities.” Examples are the used of Dutch population registers by the Nazi regime to locate and exterminate Jewish families, and the role of identity cards in the Rwanda Genocide.
The authors say that whereas the increasing awareness of the AIDS pandemic worldwide shows that visibility demands accountability, there exists no global imperative to make unregistered people more visible, and “far from advancing into this century, the inadequate state of civil registration in developing countries remains mainly as it was three decades ago.”
They conclude: “Overcoming decades of stagnation will need countries to make a principled long-term commitment to comprehensive civil registration, and to make pragmatic use of complementary or alternative registration systems and sources of data for vital events and cause of death in the short term and medium term.
“The continued cost of ignorance borne by countries without civil registration far outweighs the affordable necessity of action.”
Tony Kirby | alfa
Polluted air may pollute our morality
08.02.2018 | Association for Psychological Science
Sibling differences: Later-borns choose less prestigious programs at university
14.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.02.2018 | Life Sciences