The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has estimated that 25,685 babies would be born in Nigeria on New Year Day. Pernille Ironside, UNICEF Nigeria’s Acting Representative revealed this in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja.
He said that the figure placed the country’s babies as making up 6.5 per cent of the estimated 395,072 babies that would be born on the day globally. Ironside noted that within Africa, Nigerian babies would 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, including Nigeria.
”Others are: India 69,944, China 44,940 Pakistan 15,112, Indonesia 13,256, United States 11,086, the Democratic Republic of Congo 10,053 and Bangladesh 8,428.”
According to him, on current life expectancy rates, a child born in Nigeria today is likely to live only to the year 2074 – 55 years of age.
”A child born today in Denmark is likely to live until the 22nd century. “Only children born in three countries of Central African Republic, Chad and Sierra Leone today have a lower life expectancy than that of Nigerian children.
“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,” Ironside said.
The UNICEF country representative in Nigeria noted that globally in 2017, about 1 million babies died the day they were born and 2.5 million in their first month of life.
He said that in Nigeria about 262,000 babies die at birth annually thereby accounting for the world’s second highest national total, adding that 257 babies also die within their first month in Nigeria.
Ironside decried that many of these children died from preventable causes such as premature birth, complications during delivery and infections like sepsis and pneumonia.
“In Nigeria today, only one out of every three babies is delivered in a health centre, 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.
“As the calendar turns to 2019, UNICEF calls on countries to meet every newborns right to health and survival.
“Let’s all make a resolution to fulfill right of every child, starting with the right to survive in this New Year.
“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 said.
Ironside identified 2019 as marking the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
He added that under the convention, governments committed to, among other things, taking measures to save every child by providing good quality health care.
According to him, over the past three decades, the world has seen remarkable progress in child survival, reducing the number of children worldwide who die before their fifth birthday by more than half.
“UNICEF calls for immediate investment to deliver affordable, quality health care solutions for every mother and newborn.
“These include a steady supply of clean water and electricity at health facilities, the presence of a skilled health attendant during birth.
“Ample supplies and medicine to prevent and treat complications during pregnancy, delivery and birth and empowered adolescent girls and women who can demand better quality of health services,” he said.
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