By Kuni Tyessi
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has disclosed that over 21,000 children will be born today in Nigeria, making it third in global rating after India with 59,99 and China with 35,615.
It also said life expectancy of Nigerian children born this New Year’s Day is one of the lowest globally, as the babies will account for nearly six per cent of the estimated 371,504 babies born globally today, and with their average life expectancy which is expected to be 62.8 years, compared to a global average of 84 years.
Acting UNICEF Nigeria representative, Renu Wadhwa, in a statement, said the figures, while difficult to contemplate, are estimates and not predetermined, as there are many things that can be done to improve the fate of those children born today.
She said more than 14 million Nigerian children are chronically malnourished and 2.7 million acutely malnourished while cross-sectoral solutions to strengthen the health, food, water, sanitation and social protection systems can reverse these high numbers and keep children alive.
She added that birth registration of Nigerian children under one year is still only 4.0 per cent and 54 per cent for children under 5 years, stressing that achieving universal birth registration is an important platform for allowing children to access health care and other critical services throughout their lives
According to her, “This has been a difficult year, and there is perhaps no better way to turn the page than to welcome new young lives into the world. There are many opportunities before us in 2021, and now is the time to begin to build a better society for our children. Children born today will inherit the Nigeria we begin to build for them.
“More than 14 million Nigerian children are chronically malnourished children and 2.7 million acutely malnourished. Cross-sectoral solutions to strengthen the health, food, water, sanitation and social protection systems can reverse these high numbers and keep children alive.
“As much as 43 per cent of Nigerian children do not receive all their recommended vaccinations at the right time – a critical step towards ensuring survival and good health.
“Birth registration of Nigerian children under one year is still only 4.0 per cent and 54 per cent for children under five years. Achieving universal birth registration is an important platform for allowing children to access health care and other critical services throughout their lives.
“One in three Nigerian children do not complete primary school. Education is known to improve health and life outcomes throughout a child’s life.
“Only one in every eight babies born will make it to their fifth birthday. Those who do survive will face other challenges as young Nigerians, especially girls. For example, an estimated one in every four Nigerian girls will experience sexual violence, if nothing is done to reverse the trend and stop violence against women and girls.
“We can make Nigeria a better place for children to survive and thrive. This new year offers a new slate with opportunities to re-imagine, respond, recover and indeed build a more equitable and safer Nigeria for children, especially the girl child.
“As we navigate a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the economic and other challenges it may bring, UNICEF reaffirms its commitment to working together with the Nigerian government and people to promote and protect the rights and welfare of Nigerian children – to ensure that from this day of their birth onwards, they have a future they can look forward to,” said Renu Wadhwa.