Wednesday, September 27

Gambia rolls-out first-ever digital birth, health insurance schemes

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The Ministry of Health on Monday will begin issuance of the Gambia’s first-ever digital birth and Health Insurance Certificates.
The nationwide exercise is running simultaneously in all identified centres with applicants accessing both documents on the spot upon submission and endorsement of one’s application.

The move comes as countries around the globe transition from manual to digital, a move widely believed to be more efficient and effective in data management.

Giving an insight into the campaign at a recent press briefing on Monday, Lamin Saidybah, Public Health Officer at the Department of Planning and Information at the Ministry, informed that the new system dubbed – Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) will replace the manual system.

The system, he added, involves four components that applicants should consider at the time of applying.

“In this new system the data given to each individual is going to be continuous, permanent, universal and will be kept confidential to the state and only to the state.”

Saidybah indicated that capacity building is currently underway in all the components from service providers, supervisors, data entry clerks and verification officers ahead of the official start of the exercise, saying the exercise is targeting all eligible Gambians.

“So any applicant who meets the requirements is eligible for this digital birth certificate as birth certificate is a legal document that is required by all citizens of a country. It’s the breeding document of all other documents in a country.”

Also speaking at the ceremony, Sarata Ngack, Senior Health Economist at the Department of Planning and Information at the Ministry, thanked God for making the dreams come, adding that that was something that was thought back in the 1990s for the country to transition from paper-based or manual birth certificate to digital system to be in tandem with the tech world.

She described the initiative as a move in the right direction, saying in order to embark on any proper planning, it is important one demonstrates proofs of identity by showing documents required of all citizens in a country to guide authorities in their planning process.

“Birth certificate is a very important document and I want all Gambians to make best use of this opportunity to come and register for a new digital birth certificate.

CRVS, she added, is here to eliminate people who are stateless, adding that the former affects both the nation and individuals.

“In a sense if CRVS is to be embraced we are going to identify individuals who are citizens, migrants and even refugees. And allowing these people to our various centres for the documents, we would then inform our government the direction to take.”

A demonstration of the exercise is scheduled to take place today (Monday) at SOS Bakoteh Children’s Village. The exercise proper will then continue on Tuesday in Banjul, Bakau, Jeshwang and then to the other centres across the country. These documents, according to officials, are absolutely free of charge.

Buba Darboe, Health Communications Manager at the ministry, reminded that there was a law passed that mandates every individual in the country to be entitled to an insurance scheme whether private or public.

Darboe revealed that private insurance schemes are available in the country, but the country is yet to introduce public insurance schemes.