New Year’s Babies: Over 65,000 children will be born in West and Central Africa on New Year’s Day - UNICEF

As the calendar turns to 2019, UNICEF calls on nations to meet every newborn’s right to health and survival

31 December 2018
Every Child ALIVE Mali
UNICEF/UN0188884/Njiokiktjien VII Photo
On 8 March 2018 in Mali, a sleeping 24-day-old baby, Youssouf Sanogo, is cradled by his mother, Hawa Diawara (hands partially visible), 18, at the Community Health Centre in Koumatou.

DAKAR, 1 January 2019   An estimated 65,001 babies will be born in West and Central Africa on New Year’s Day, accounting for more than 16 per cent of the estimated 395,072 babies to be born on New Year’s Day worldwide, UNICEF said today.

In various places around the world, communities will welcome with festivities not only the New Year, but also their newest and tiniest residents.

In West and Central Africa, about two thirds of these births are estimated to take place in four countries: Nigeria, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger and Côte d’Ivoire.

While families will celebrate their newborns, many babies will not even have time to be named as they won’t make it past their first days.

A baby born in sub-Saharan Africa is nine times more likely to die in the first month of life than a baby born in a high-income country. In West and Central Africa, an estimated 665,000 newborn babies died in 2018 – more than 1,800 every single day. In addition, there were about 600,000 stillbirths. The region has the highest neonatal mortality rate in the world (32/1,000 live births).

Most newborns died from preventable causes such as premature birth, complications during delivery, and infections like sepsis and pneumonia, a violation of their right to survival.

“This New Year Day, let us all make a good resolution to realize every right of every child, starting with the right to survive,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “We can save hundreds of thousands of babies every year in the region if we invest in strengthening health workers’ skills and supplying health facilities with basic equipment, so that every newborn is born into a safe pair of hands and clean environment.”

2019 also marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which UNICEF will be commemorating throughout the year. Under the convention, governments committed to, among other things, taking measures to save every child by providing good quality health care. 

Over the past three decades, West and Central Africa has seen remarkable progress in child survival, cutting the number of children who die before their fifth birthday by 54 per cent. But there has been slower progress for newborns, with a 30 per cent reduction.

UNICEF’s Every Child Alive campaign 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 to access better quality of health services.

“Thirty years after world leaders committed to realizing children’s rights, we are still losing newborns from preventable causes,” said Ms Poirier. “This year, we should renew our efforts to give every baby in West and Central Africa a chance to survive, to thrive, to laugh, to play, to grow – to have a birth certificate and to have healthy, happy and productive life.”

Media contacts

Anne Isabelle Leclercq Balde
UNICEF West & Central Africa
Tel: + 221 77 740 69 14


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