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(CARICOM Secretariat, Georgetown, Guyana)   Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries gearing for the December 2005 implementation of the CARICOM Single Market (CSM) are steadily focusing on improving their statistical database to ensure the effective flow of information when the CSM takes off. To this end, a three-day workshop under the theme Strengthening Capacity of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems in CARICOM Member States-Improvement of Statistics on Fertility and Mortality got underway in Georgetown on Monday 4 April.

The workshop targets personnel in Member States who are engaged in the collection, compilation, and dissemination of information in Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems. It comes as part of a programme being instituted in CARICOM countries to improve the provision of timely, reliable and relevant social statistics for policy and decision-making in the Community, to facilitate its improved delivery of social services to CARICOM citizens.

The forum is also part of a Regional thrust to provide information for monitoring and evaluation of the quality of life of the populations of CARICOM Member States, with indicators and statistics to monitor the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Member States.

Among its objectives, the workshop is aimed at enhancing participants' understanding of the elements, principles, concepts, definitions and techniques recommended internationally for the development, operation and maintenance of reliable Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems. This is with a view to strengthening the capacity of Member States to operate, manage and maintain the latter systems.

In addition, the workshop is seeking to promote the use of harmonised concepts and definitions, and also strengthen the capacity of participants to produce and disseminate timely, reliable and accurate statistics and indicators on fertility and mortality, including relevant indicators to measure the achievement of the MDGs.

It is anticipated that the information data forum will also provide a platform for the exchange of experiences among Member States. Another expected outcome is the formulation of recommendations from which a draft a plan of action will be devised to support the continuous strengthening of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems, along with the effective compilation of pertinent statistics at the national and Regional levels.

The workshop is being funded by the World Bank Trust Fund for Statistical Capacity Building (TFSCB) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with facilitators drawn from the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) based in New York and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Country Support Team (CST), Mexico.

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