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Are inequities decreasing? Birth registration for children under five in low-income and middle-income countries, 1999–2016
Authors: Amiya Bhatia, Nancy Krieger, Jason Beckfield, Aluisio J D Barros, and Cesar Victora
Source: BMJ Global Health, 4(6): e001926; DOI: 10.1136/bmjgh-2019-001926
Topic(s): Child height
Children under five
Country: More than one region
  Multiple Regions
Published: DEC 2019
Abstract: Introduction Although global birth registration coverage has improved from 58% to 71% among children under five globally, inequities in birth registration coverage by wealth, urban/rural location, maternal education and access to a health facility persist. Few studies examine whether inequities in birth registration in low-income and middle-income countries have changed over time. Methods We combined information on caregiver reported birth registration of 1.6?million children in 173 publicly available, nationally representative Demographic Health Surveys and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys across 67 low-income and middle-income countries between 1999 and 2016. For each survey, we calculated point estimates and 95% CIs for the percentage of children under 5?years without birth registration on average and stratified by sex, urban/rural location and wealth. For each sociodemographic variable, we estimated absolute measures of inequality. We then examined changes in non-registration and inequities between surveys, and annually. Results 14 out of 67 countries had achieved complete birth registration. Among the remaining 53 countries, 39 countries successfully decreased the percentage of children without birth registration. However, this reduction occurred alongside statistically significant increases in wealth inequities in 9 countries and statistically significant decreases in 10 countries. At the most recent survey, the percentage of children without birth registration was greater than 50% in 16 out of 67 countries. Conclusion Although birth registration improved on average, progress in reducing wealth inequities has been limited. Findings highlight the importance of monitoring changes in inequities to improve birth registration, to monitor Sustainable Development Goal 16.9 and to strengthen Civil Registration and Vital Statistics systems. This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made.