India tops the list of eight countries expected to contribute to half the number of births on January 1, with an estimated 67,385 births. China follows at 46,299, Nigeria (26,039), Pakistan (16,787), Indonesia (13,020), the US (10,452), the Democratic Republic of Congo (10,247) and Ethiopia (8,493).
The Pacific Ocean island-nation of Fiji most likely delivered 2020’s first baby, and the US, its last. About 3,92,078 babies, according to UNICEF, are estimated to be born around the world on New Year’s Day. But it’s not all hunky-dory for the newborns, cautions UNICEF, calling for a safe pair of hands to deliver and care for them. While UNICEF celebrates every New Year’s Day as an auspicious one for childbirth around the world, it points out that “for millions of newborns around the world, the day of their birth is far less auspicious”.
“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,” Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, said in a statement. The reason for concern is this. In 2018, 2.5 million newborns died in their first month, about a third of them on the first day. Among those infants, most died from preventable causes such as premature birth, complications during delivery, and infections such as sepsis. In addition, more than 2.5 million babies are born dead each year.
“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. However, there has been slower progress for newborns,” the agency pointed out. “Babies dying in the first month accounted for 47 per cent of all deaths among children under five in 2018, up from 40 per cent in 1990,” the statement said.
As part of its Every Child Alive campaign, UNICEF calls for immediate investment in health workers with the right training, who are equipped with medicines to ensure every mother and newborn is cared for by a safe pair of hands. The aim is to prevent and treat complications during pregnancy, delivery and birth. “Too many mothers and newborns are not being cared for by a trained and equipped midwife or nurse, and the results are devastating,” said 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.”