New Year’s Day a reminder of need for action to prevent newborn deaths: UNICEF

02.01.2020 - UN News Centre

New Year’s Day a reminder of need for action to prevent newborn deaths: UNICEF
A man cries with laughter as he holds his newborn baby, born a few moments before at Lerdsin Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand. (Image by UNICEF/Zehbrauskas)

The world will welcome more than 392,000 babies on New Year’s Day, according to estimates from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). 

The agency believes 2020’s first baby will be born in Fiji and that globally, over half of all births on 1 January will take place in eight countries: India, China, Nigeria, Pakistan, Indonesia, the United States of America, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Ethiopia.

“The beginning of a new year and a new decade is an opportunity to reflect on our hopes and aspirations not only for our future, but the future of those who will come after us,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director.

“As the calendar flips each January, we are reminded of all the possibility and potential of each child embarking on her or his life’s journey—if they are just given that chance.”

However, UNICEF reported that in 2018, 2.5 million newborns died before reaching one month old, around a third of them on the first day of life.

Most of these deaths were from preventable causes such as premature birth, complications during delivery and infections like sepsis.

Additionally, more than 2.5 million babies are born dead each year.

UNICEF pointed out that there has been tremendous progress in child survival over the past 30 years.  In that time, the number of children who die before their fifth birthday has been reduced by more than half.

Unfortunately, progress for newborns has been slower.  Babies dying in their first month of life accounted for 47 per cent of all deaths among under-fives in 2018, up from 40 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,” said Ms. Fore.

“We can ensure that millions of babies survive their first day and live into this decade and beyond if every one of them is born into a safe pair of hands.”

UNICEF believes that providing universal health care can help save more newborns.

Through its Every Child Alive campaign, the agency is calling for immediate investment in midwives and other health workers who are equipped with the write medicines and equipment to ensure all mothers and babies are cared for safely.

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