More than 395,000 babies were expected to have born around the world on New Year’s Day, with India estimated to record the highest number of these births at nearly 70,000, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said.
As the calendar flips to 2019, about 395,072 babies will be born around the world.
Over half of these births are estimated to take place in eight countries, including India, China, Pakistan, United States and Bangladesh.
India is expected to register 69,944 of these births, followed by China (44,940), Nigeria (25,685), Pakistan (15,112), Indonesia (13,256), US (11,086), The Democratic Republic of Congo (10,053) and Bangladesh (8,428).
As the clock struck midnight, Sydney greeted an estimated 168 babies, followed by 310 in Tokyo, 605 in Beijing, 166 in Madrid, and 317 in New York.
The first babies were born in Fiji in the Pacific, and the US will most likely deliver its last.
As the world enters a new year, UNICEF called on nations to meet every newborn’s right to health and survival.
The agency’s Deputy Executive Director, Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, asked the world to join UNICEF in “making a resolution to fulfil every right of every child, starting with the right to survive”.
The agency warned that in several countries many babies will not even be named as they won’t make it past their first day. According to UNICEF, in 2017, about one million babies died the day they were born, and 2.5 million in just their first month of life.
Most died from preventable causes such as premature birth, complications during delivery, and infections like pneumonia, in what the agency called ‘a violation of their basic right to survival’.
“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,” Gornitza added.
The year 2019 also marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Under the convention, governments committed to take measures to save every child by providing good quality health care.
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.
But there has been slower progress for newborns. Babies dying in the first month account for 47 per cent of all deaths among children under five.
UNICEF’s Every Child Alive Campiagn’ 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 medicines to prevent and treat complications during pregnancy, delivery and birth, and empowered adolescent girls and women who can demand better quality of health services.