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The Ten CRVS milestones framework

Roles and responsibilities

In most countries, different government agencies or departments are responsible for conducting the different functions of a CRVS system, and different administrative structures are possible. The three main partners in a CRVS system are the:

  • Civil registration agency, often within a Ministry of Justice, Home Affairs or Interior
  • Health Department or Ministry of Health
  • National Statistics Office, often within a ministry of finance.

Other sectors contribute to aspects of the CRVS system, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (for registration of events to nationals occurring abroad), the police and judicial authorities (for the investigation of non-natural deaths).

The goal of the civil registration system is to achieve full coverage of the population so that all types of vital events are accurately and completely registered on a timely basis, according to the law. Responsibility for the establishment or development of a civil registration system should lie with a agency or agencies. The assignment of functions should be accompanied by a clear designation of duties and responsibilities with respect to the entire system, including:

  • Notification of vital events to the registration authorities
  • Validation and registration of vital events
  • Issuance of certificates to eligible persons 
  • Custody and archiving of records
  • Information sharing, reporting, compilation, analysis, presentation and dissemination of data
  • Critical appraisal, quality assurance and evaluation of the system.

It is essential to ensure the smooth flow of information from vital event registration up until the compilation and dissemination of statistical reports. Each level of the system has an important role to play in checking for missing or incorrectly completed forms. Initial verification, querying and error identification should take place at the first administrative level before the data are transmitted to the higher district, state, regional or national levels. The National Statistics Office can play an important role by providing statistical oversight of the quality of information collected during registration.

All roles and responsibilities at different levels of the system need to be clearly specified and allocated across different agencies. The existence of unclear or overlapping responsibilities will adversely affect smooth operation of the system. Duplication is also a waste of resources. In some countries, multi-stakeholder committees bring together representatives from the Health Department, hospitals, coroners, police, funeral agencies, religious authorities and other organisations. These committees need to be active and have decision-making authority to resolve any problems identified. 

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