© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
New Year’s babies: Nigeria trails behind India, China
AN estimated 25,685 babies will be born in Nigeria on New Year’s Day, according to Unicef, the UN children’s agency.
Unicef said Nigerian babies make up 6.5 per cent of the estimated 395,072 babies born on New Year’s Day globally.
“Within Africa, Nigerian babies will account for almost 40 per cent of all those born in West and Central Africa, and more than 23 per cent of those born in sub-Saharan Africa
“Globally, over half of the world’s births are estimated to take place in just eight countries, including Nigeria.
While at current life expectancy rates, a child born in Nigeria today is likely to live only to the year 2074 – 55 years of age but a child born today in Denmark is likely to live until the 22nd century, according to Unicef.
Unicef said only children born in three countries today have a lower life expectancy than that of Nigerian children: Central African Republic, Chad and Sierra Leone.
“We can and must do more to ensure that children born in Nigeria survive their first day of life – and are able to survive and thrive for many months and years to come,” said Pernille Ironside, Unicef Nigeria’s Acting Representative.
Globally in 2017, Unicef said, about 1 million babies died the day they were born, and 2.5 million in just their first month of life.
“In Nigeria, each year, about 262,000 babies die at birth, the world’s second highest national total, while every day in Nigeria, 257 babies die within their first month of life. Among these children, most died from preventable causes such as premature birth, complications during delivery, and infections like sepsis and pneumonia, a violation of their basic right to survival.”
Ironside said, “in Nigeria today, only one out of every three babies is delivered in a health centre, decreasing a newborn baby’s chance of survival. This is just one of the issues that need to be addressed in order to improve the chances of survival of those babies born today and every day.
Ironside continued. “This New Year Day, let’s all make a resolution to fulfil every right of every child, starting with the right to survive. 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.”
From fewer than 50 million people in 1960 to an estimated 200 million people now, population is the unparalleled and unrivalled growth that Nigeria has recorded since Independence. With this superlative growth, Nigeria is the seventh most populous country in the world.
Based on this unmatched growth, Nigeria will have over 400 million people by 2050, less populated than only India and China.
But more than 50 per cent of children born in Nigeria may not exist in legal terms because their births are not registered.
As important as birth registration is in child protection, it is an afterthought in Nigeria. In 2017, only 2.6 million children under the age of one were registered by the National Population Commission (NPC), whereas more than 7 million children were estimated to have been born that year in the country.