Babies behind statistical mix-ups
The Samoa Bureau of Statistics (S.B.S.) is tackling the issue of inaccuracies in its records arising from the incorrect reporting of details of children who are born at home instead of hospitals.
The S.B.S. issued an online notice on Monday laying out what the public ought to do when a new baby is born and also reminding the public of the proper procedures to be followed for marriages and deaths.
The Bureau's Chief Executive Officer, Ali’imuamua Malaefono Ta’aloga, said receiving inaccurate information about children presented a persistent problem.
Ali’imuamua said there have been cases of people coming back to the office seeking to change information because of claimed inaccuracies and especially in the cases of adoption.
"There are people who bring in the names of the parents who are adopting, rather than the biological parents," she said.
"And the problem is, sometimes these cases are from years ago but have come back as some have returned to find their real parents, and they want to undo the records, saying they were not aware or anything."
"And these are the types of things we are trying to notify the public about, to ensure they are well informed. Because not everyone wants the same thing, everyone has different cases.
"Especially when they want to move overseas, and they try and adopt illegally, where they would actually come in and swear an oath they they are real parents, when in fact, they are not."
The country's Chief Statistician said there is continuous partnership with village women's committees, the bodies which play the role of collecting ground-level statistical information as Government representatives.
Parents to babies born out of hospitals are required to contact the village representatives to fill out relevant documents.
But due to the increasing amount of misleading information discovered by the bureau, it is now compulsory for a traditional healer who delivered the baby to swear an oath about the veracity of the information provided.
Another challenge faced by the Bureau is the fact that people tend to use different names for different sets of records, shuffling between choosing their father's first and last name as their last names.
Ali'imuamua admitted that it is a challenge to keep track of everyone as the office for records has been moved quite a few times over the years.
As a consequence there are times when records are either mixed up or lost; others have wrong recorded birth dates.
Computerised systems, which only come into existence in 2003, have definitely posed challenges, the C.E.O. said.
"We realised at the time that so much of the records that were manually dealt with at the time [and] could not be verified," she said.
"They would register and make issue a birth certificate and again, under something else, it's like there was not much regard taken by the people for their records.
"But now, we are trying to establish legislation where it should be to ensure that there is one birth certificate for each [baby]. Because there have been cases with one person and two birth certificates.
"They have been picked up by our immigration making passports we currently cannot pick that up with our current system."
But Aliimuamua is adamant on improving on their record keeping, but first, the people need to know what they are supposed to do.