Excellency Police Lieutenant General Nattaphit Sanitwong Na Ayuthaya, Vice Minister of Interior of Thailand,
Ms. Gillian Triggs, Assistant Secretary-General and UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection,
Ms. Mikiko Otani, Chair of the Committee on the Rights of the Child,
Excellencies, Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
I am honoured to welcome you all to the Second Ministerial Conference on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics in Asia and the Pacific.
We are meeting here today to celebrate the midpoint of the Asia and Pacific Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) Decade.
Universal civil registration record is an essential source of data for vital statistics on births and deaths.
Governments require these statistics to design, implement and monitor public policies.
Therefore, by investing in CRVS, we could ensure the monitoring of progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The COVID-19 crisis has unveiled systematic challenges, while created untapped opportunities for CRVS systems.
It was evident across our region that a public health emergency such as COVID-19 could bring challenges to a well-functioning CRVS system, as the authorities had to ensure accurate and timely information reporting on death registrations.
During the past 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, health information system and infrastructure could not always deal with their existing limited capacities to gather accurate information, especially among the most vulnerable and marginalized populations.
We need to work together to strengthen CRVS system in recording mortality statistics.
I also wish to recognise that the Asia-Pacific region has made impressive progress towards universal civil registration since the beginning of the Decade.
Many countries are close to registering all births and deaths, while others are rapidly closing the gap.
Our member States are working tirelessly to advance on three goals of the Decade that is universal civil registration, the provision of legal documentation and the production of vital statistics from civil registration.
It’s heartening to note that the progress in implementing the Regional Action Framework has been made by our member States.
A growing number of are addressing civil registration and vital statistics issues in a coordinated and multisectoral manner, while facilitating action at the various levels of their national governance structure.
In fact, this regional approach has provided impetus to focus on institutional reforms and management system that could help shape adequate monitoring of the performance of civil registration and vital statistics systems.
We have yet to get everyone in the picture.
During the last three days, senior officials had the opportunity to exchange views about their progress and challenges towards our shared regional vision of universal and responsive civil registration and vital statistics systems.
They also discussed recent developments requiring the improvement of these systems, including the role of civil registration and vital statistics for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, providing legal identity for all, and the COVID-19 recovery.
Indeed, whilst the impact of Covid has been truly devastating, it has also demonstrated the importance of data, and specifically on the number of deaths and their causes.
The need for timely, accurate data used by policymakers and trusted by the public has never been clearer.
I also recognise that the Ministers from around region have provided dedicated and forward-looking leadership during the first half of the Decade by committing resources to building and improving their national, civil registration and vital statistics systems.
We still need to maintain, and in some cases redouble our joint efforts to accelerate progress to achieve universal civil registration at the end of the Decade.
Today, this Ministerial Conference is providing a dedicated platform to exchange perspectives and time-bound solutions for achieving our shared regional vision of universal and responsive civil registration and vital statistics systems agreed upon in 2014.
We are grateful for your commitment during the remainder of the Decade.
I count on your leadership and guidance.
Thank you very much.