The birth of a child is a vital event that needs to be registered but this is not always the case as an estimated 40 million births go unregistered annually. Birth registration safeguards the basic rights of children and gives them an identity, citizenship/nationality and legal protection against violence, abuse and human rights violations. It is therefore necessary that all births are registered and even more critical that the registration of a birth is followed by the issuance of a birth certificate. But sadly, birth registration in many African countries continues to remain below acceptable international standards and not all registered births are certified. This paper examined birth registration and certification in Ghana. Differentials in the characteristics of children and mothers of children whose births are registered and certified, children whose births are registered but not certified and children whose births are not registered were examined.
This paper analysed data from the 2014 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey drawing on variables from the household and children’s data files. Descriptive analytical tools (frequencies, percentage and cross tabulations) and multinomial logistic regression analysis were used to examine differentials in birth registration status among an analytical sample of 3880 (weighted) children aged 0–4 years.
The birth of about every 1 in 4 (28.89%) children in Ghana have never been registered. Birth registration and certification was lowest among children born to young mothers (15–19 years), children whose mothers have no formal education, mothers who reside in rural areas and mothers in the poorest wealth quintile. Additionally, home births and births that were not assisted by a medical professional were observed to have the lowest proportion of registered and certified births. Furthermore, the birth of children who are less than a year old was significantly more likely not to be registered or issued with a birth certificate.
Efforts aimed at improving birth registration and certification in Ghana need to target groups of children and mothers with low levels of registration and certification particularly children who are born at home, children born to young mothers and children whose mothers are poor and or reside in rural areas.