UNICEF Announces Birth of Estimated 26,000 New Year Babies in Nigeria

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• Canvasses newborn rights, survival

Kuni Tyessi in Abuja

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that an estimated 25,685 babies were expected to be born today (January 1) in Nigeria, making up 6.5 per cent of the estimated 395,072 babies born on New Year Day globally.

UNICEF Nigeria’s Acting Representative, Pernille Ironside, who revealed this in a statement signed by the organisation’s communications specialist, Eva Hinds, said current life expectancy rate of a child born in Nigeria today is likely to live only to the year 2074, which is 55 years of age, while the child’s counterpart in a country such as Denmark is likely to live until the 22nd century.

He said so far, only children born in three countries today have a lower life expectancy than that of Nigerian children, listing them as Central African Republic, Chad and Sierra Leone.

He said: “We can and must do more to ensure that children born in Nigeria survive their first day of life and are able to survive and thrive for many months and years to come.

“In Nigeria, each year, about 262,000 babies die at birth, the world’s second highest national total, while every day in Nigeria, 257 babies die within their first month of life.

“Among these children, most died from preventable causes such as premature birth, complications during delivery, and infections like sepsis and pneumonia, a violation of their basic right to survival.

Ironside further disclosed that in Nigeria today, only one out of every three babies is delivered in a health centre facility, thereby decreasing a newborn baby’s chance of survival.

“This is just one of the issues that need to be addressed in order to improve the chances of survival of those babies born today and every day. “This New Year Day, let’s all make a resolution to fulfill every right of every child, starting with the right to survive.

“We can save millions of babies if we invest in training and equipping local health workers so that every newborn is born into a safe pair of hands,” he added.

While calling on countries to observe the right to health and survival of newborns, UNICEF stated that within Africa, Nigerian babies will account for almost 40 per cent of all those born in West and Central Africa, and more than 23 per cent of those born in sub-Saharan Africa.

Globally, over half of the world’s births are estimated to take place in just eight countries with India and China leading with 69,944 and 44,940 respectively. Nigeria comes third, distantly followed by Pakistan, Indonesia, United States of America, Democratic Republic of Congo and Bangladesh with 15,112, 13,256,11,086,10,053 and 8,428 respectively.

2019 also marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child which UNICEF will be commemorating with worldwide events throughout the year.

Under the convention, governments committed to, among other things, will take measures to save every child by providing good quality health care.

Over the past three decades, the world has seen remarkable progress in child survival, cutting the number of children worldwide who die before their fifth birthday by more than half. But there has been slower progress for newborns. Babies dying in the first month account for 47 per cent of all deaths among children under five.