* As Nigeria welcomes 26,039 babies Wednesday
By Kuni Tyessi in Abuja
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has called on world leaders and countries to invest more in health workers with the know-how and equipment to save every newborn as it has estimated that 26,039 babies will be born in Nigeria Wednesday.
Nigerian babies will account for almost seven per cent of the estimated 392,078 babies to be born on New Year’s Day globally, the third highest number of babies in the world after India and China who will host 67,385 and 46,299 babies respectively.
Others are Pakistan with 16,787, Indonesia with 13,020, the United States of America with 10,452, as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia with 10,247 and 8,493 respectively.
Also, UNICEF’s campaign titled “Every Child alive” has called for immediate investment in health workers with the right training, as they are expected to be equipped with the right medicines to ensure every mother and newborn is cared for by a safe pair of hands to prevent and treat complications during pregnancy, delivery and birth.
In a statement released by UNICEF communications specialist, Ms. Eliana Drakopoulos, UNICEF representative to Nigeria, Mr. Peter Hawkins, said in 2018 in Nigeria alone, 318,522 child deaths occurred and among those children, most died from preventable causes such as premature birth, complications during delivery, and infections like sepsis, with more than 400,000 stillborn deaths taking place in Nigeria annually.
He said although remarkable progress has been seen in child survival in Nigeria, the number has been cut by about 500,000 between 1990 and 2018, however, there has been slower progress for newborns, adding that 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 and with figures pegged at 29 per cent.
He said: “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.
“Fiji in the Pacific will most likely deliver 2020’s first baby. The United States, its last. Globally, over half of these births are estimated to take place in eight countries: India—67,385, China, 46,29, Nigeria — 26,039, Pakistan — 16,787, Indonesia — 13,020, United States of America — 10,452, Democratic Republic of Congo — 10,247 and Ethiopia — 8,493.
“However, 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. 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. Among those children, most died from preventable causes such as premature birth, complications during delivery, and infections like sepsis. In addition, 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.
“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.”
He said that well equipped facilities with well trained staff is especially critical as the world awaits only 10 years to deliver on the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).