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Registrar braves COVID-19 to document Nigeria’s children


The emergence of COVID-19 in Nigeria has forced
lockdowns in parts of the country. Some are working
from home; many are not working – but civil registrar
Chioma Agudosi has no choice. And she loves it.
“I work with children, and I am a mother too,” said
Agudosi, who works with the National Population
Commission in Abuja, Nigeria’s administrative capital.
“I am dedicated to whatever I’m doing – even more
so when it concerns children’s welfare.”
Agudosi’s job is crucial. While COVID-19 has brought
global lockdowns and shut down parts of the
economy access to many routine services, babies are
still being born.
The United Nations Statistics Division estimates that
the number of children under age one in Nigeria this
year could be as high as seven million. All of these
children will need to be registered and issued birth
certificates, despite COVID-19. This will ensure the
country can provide them access to basic social
services, essential healthcare, basic education and
early childhood development services.
Between 29 April and 1 May, Agudosi registered about
60 children’s births. Her own children have birth
certificates as well. But it is a job that is now taking
its toll.
Only those delivering essential services can move
during restrictions in Abuja, but Agudosi – considered
a non-essential worker, does not own a car. She
must find her own way to the Primary Health Centre
in Jiwa community, a densely populated urban slum of
Abuja, with very few transportation options.
“In the morning I wake up, prepare breakfast for my
family, dress and then set out for work. Getting to the
hospital is not easy. But once I get there, meeting the
newborn babies makes it somehow easier for me to
forget my worries. Getting back home is again
difficult, because of lack of transportation,” she said.
The primary health center where Agudosi works
caters to thousands of women who come to give
birth. The newborns must be immunized and
registered, COVID-19 notwithstanding. Agudosi is
needed in the clinic – despite the pandemic around
her. She must observe infection protection and
control protocols, to protect herself, those around her,
and her family back home.