The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has estimated that 26,039 babies would be born in Nigeria on New Year Day.
Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Nigeria Representative, disclosed this in a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said the figure placed the country’s babies as making up 7 per cent of the estimated 392,078 babies that would be born on the day globally.
Hawkins said over half of these births are estimated to take place in eight countries globally.
“India — 67,385, China — 46,299, Nigeria — 26,039,
Pakistan — 16,787, Indonesia — 13,020, The United States of America — 10,452, The Democratic Republic of Congo — 10,247, Ethiopia — 8,493,”
“The beginning of a new year – and this year, a new decade – is a chance for us to reflect on our hopes and dreams for the future of Nigeria – especially for those who stand to inherit this country; its children.
“As we start each new year, we are reminded of the potential of each and every Nigerian child embarking on her or his life’s journey—if only they are given that chance to survive and thrive,” Mr Hawkins said.
According to him, each January, UNICEF celebrates babies born on New Year’s Day, an auspicious day for childbirth around the world.
Sadly, for millions of newborns around the world, including in Nigeria, the day of their birth is far less auspicious, and sadly is often their last.
He said in 2018, 2.5 million newborns died in just their first month of life around the world; about a third of them on the first day of life. In Nigeria, this was 318,522 deaths.
He decried that most of these children died from preventable causes such as premature birth, complications during delivery, and infections like sepsis.
“More than 2.5 million babies are born dead each year – with more than 400,000 stillborn deaths taking place in Nigeria annually.
“Over the past three decades, the world – including Nigeria – has seen remarkable progress in child survival, cutting the number of children worldwide who die before their fifth birthday by more than half.
“In Nigeria, this number has been cut by about 500,000 between 1990 and 2018. But there has been slower progress for newborns.
“Babies dying in their first month of life accounted for 47 per cent of all deaths among children under five in 2018, up from 40 per cent in 1990. In Nigeria, these figures are 29 per cent, up from 21 per cent in 1990” he said.
Mr Hawkins calls for immediate investment in health workers with the right training to ensure the safety of every mother and child.
“Too many mothers and newborns are not being cared for by a trained and equipped midwife or nurse, and the results are devastating.
“We can ensure that millions of babies survive their first day and live into this decade and beyond if every mother has good pregnancy care and every baby is born into a safe pair of hands.
“That means having well-equipped facilities with well-trained staff who can be there to welcome every Nigerian child into this world safely and healthily. This is especially critical as we now only have 10 years to deliver on the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he said.
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