Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A scandal of invisibility: making everyone count by counting everyone

29.10.2007
Most people in Africa and Asia are born and die without leaving a trace in any legal record or statistic, a situation which has arisen due to the stagnation of civil registration systems in many poor countries.

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
Further information:
http://www.thelancet.com

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht New measure for the wellbeing of populations could replace Human Development Index
07.11.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Because not only arguments count
30.10.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik in den Naturwissenschaften (MPIMIS)

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'

16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

Good preparation is half the digestion

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Microscope measures muscle weakness

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>