Twelve newborns ring in the new year with hope, possibility
UNICEF photographs the first babies of 2019 from around the world
In an age of uncertainty and strife, a baby’s tiny feet and hands reaching out can draw in even the most hardened of hearts. Babies represent hope and new beginnings. They are the blank slate on which we place our aspirations.
On 1 January 2019, an estimated 395,072 babies were born. As life persisted at midnight on New Year’s Day, UNICEF dispatched 12 photographers in ten time zones to capture the world’s future.
(Above) Canberra, Australia, 4:06 pm: Lincoln Allen McDougall, a boy, 4.4 kg (9.7 lbs.), is kissed by mother Lilian at Centenary Hospital for Women and Children. In Australia, Lincoln’s life expectancy is 83 years, but the surrounding island countries range from 73-66 years. That could change. In mid-December, a one-month-old baby in Vanuatu became the first child in the world vaccinated through drone delivery made possible by UNICEF, the Australian government and other partners.
Beijing, China, 10:19 am: Li Xin Yao, 3.6 kg (7.9 lbs.), lies dressed and swaddled in the nursery of at Beijing United Family Hospital as her mother, Xu Hui, rests in her room. “It’s not easy to have a child over the age of 30, but I feel very fortunate,” says Hui, who underwent caesarian section for her second daughter’s birth. The Chinese government, with UNICEF’s support, introduced the Maternal Near Miss (MNM) and Neonatal Near Miss (NNM) Care Network Assessment and Development Project to save babies’ lives and improve child birth in China.
Jakarta, Indonesia, 7:07 am: The newborn daughter, 2.8 kg (6.1 lbs.), of Putri Retno Galih lies in bed at the RS Awal Bros Hospital.“Feeling nine months of pregnancy… made me realize being a mother is the greatest gift from Allah,” Putri says. Services in neonatal-care facilities across Indonesia have improved, but the worldwide infant mortality rate remains at 19 per 1,000 births, largely due to sepsis, which accounts for 21 per cent of deaths within the first month of life.
New Delhi, India, 12:20 am: Alka, 29, cradles her infant daughter, 2.7 kg (6 lbs.), at Lady Hardinge Medical College. She and father, Thakur Singh, will soon consult their priest to name the baby. India’s maternal mortality rate reduced from 280 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2005 to 174 deaths in 2015, due to such interventions as the Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakran scheme which provides free maternity services for women and children.
Kabul, Afghanistan, 9:00 am: Lemah Saleh, 24, welcomes Rayan, 3 kg (6.6 lbs.), at Malalai Maternity Hospital. Although life expectancy in Afghanistan is 65 years, “I pray that my son grows into a healthy and educated man to serve our beloved country and its people,” Lemah says. UNICEF works closely with the Ministry of Public Health to immunize every child with life-saving vaccines, keeping a ‘cold chain’ of refrigerators across the country to guarantee immunizations retain their potency.
Kiev, Ukraine, 5:00 am: Iryna Dyshlevich, 31, lies near her baby, 3.9 kg (8.6 lbs.) at the Perinatal Centre of Kyiv. “He is a darling little man who, I hope, will love me for who I am,” Iryna says. In partnership with the Ukranian government, UNICEF established 11 modern parenting rooms in health facilities in two key provinces, providing improved access to basic hygiene practices, privacy for breastfeeding and informational materials on childcare.
Gaza City, State of Palestine, 7:30 am: Samia cuddles her newborn baby boy, Mohammed, 3.8 kg (8.4 lbs.) at Al Shifaa hospital. “Nothing can describe how happy I am, but I’m worried about my baby’s future,” Samia says. As a result of the political crisis, the degradation in the water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure and the energy crisis in Gaza persists. UNICEF has continued to provide safe drinking water through solar power water tanks, drinking water taps and hygiene instruction.
Lagos, Nigeria, 12:00 am: Basirat Adegbesan soothes her newborn son, 3.7kg (8.1lbs.), at Lagos Island Maternity Hospital. “Though I was not expecting it today, God made me to deliver the first baby of the year,” Basirat says. He is the fourth child of Basirat and her partner, Wasiu. With mobile phones, UNICEF and partners reach new mothers throughout Lagos state with text and voice messages in local dialects announcing such things as maternal, newborn and child health weeks.
Barcelona, Spain, 2:14 pm: Lilit Grigoryan poses with her daughter, Sofia, 3.7 kg (8.1 lbs.), at the Vall d’Hebron Barcelona Hospital. In Spain, Sofia’s life expectancy is 84 years, while in Niger, whereUNICEF Spain oversaw the delivery of nearly 40,000 mother/child survival kits through the 2018 Cada VIDA cuenta campaign, a child born today is expected to live to 2080. Across the world, approximately 830 women die every day due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth – 99 per cent in developing countries, according to the World Health Organisation.
Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 12:11 am: Aicha Koné rests with her minutes-old son, 4.5 kg (9.9 lbs.), at Hôpital de Port-Bouët. “He’s really a big boy,” Aicha says, “and I hope he will be strong and have a healthy life.” The Government of Côte d’Ivoire joined the Scaling Up Nutrition movement in 2011, and UNICEF now works with civil society groups to increase nutrition interventions and to promote breastfeeding for the first six months.
Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 12:01 am: Julia da Silva Reis, 3.9kg (8.5 lbs.), born by caesarian section, greets mother Viviane Dos Santos at the Hospital Sofia Feldman. Father Rafael da Silva says he is very hopeful about providing a future for his daughter. For nearly 30 years, Brazil’s Community Health Agent programme, through which health agents visit families and teach them about the importance of breastfeeding, hygiene and vaccinations, has been significantly reduced under-five child mortality.
Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 3:50 am: Sara Cléomène, 26, dresses her infant daughter, 2.3 kg (5 lbs.), for the first time at the Hopital de l’Université d’Etat d’Haiti. “I feel good now… Before that I had unbearable pain,” Sara says. “Only God knows (the future) of my daughter. I pray first of all for her to be healthy.” After Hurricane Matthew struck in 2016, UNICEF and its partners vaccinated 756,191 people against cholera, including 288,000 children.