New York: India witnessed the birth of over 69,000 babies, the highest in the world, on Tuesday, according to an Unicef projection.
The UN body, in a release said, revellers in India not only welcomed 2019 with fervour but also 69,944 newest and tiniest residents into their homes.
China followed India with 44,940 babies and Nigeria came third with 25,685 newborns. India’s neighbour Pakistan added 15,112 to its population while Indonesia saw 13,256 births. Similarly, United States welcomed 11,086 little ones into the world while Bangladesh celebrated the New Year with 8,428 newborns.
“As the clock strikes midnight, Sydney greeted an estimated 168 babies, followed by 310 in Tokyo, 605 in Beijing, 166 in Madrid and finally, 317 in New York,” Unicef said.
But the good news came with an universal appeal by Unicef — of protecting the newborns, the countless Alexanders and Ayeshas, the Bittus and Snehas who may not even have survived the first day of their lives.
In 2018, about 1 million babies died the day they were born, and 2.5 million in just their first month of life.
Among those 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.
Report suggests, 12,000 infants died in Odisha in 2016-17.
“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,” Unicef’s deputy executive director Charlotte Petri said.
In her column in The Hindustan Times on Wednesday, UNICEF’s regional director for South Asia Jean Gough blamed the newborn deaths to the non-availability of clinics and hospitals and quality of care.
She felt that much of the problem can be solved at the homes itself if families can start by looking critically the care the mothers get when a new baby is on its way.
“It starts with the fundamentals; Is the place clean? Look at the healthcare workers, are they able and willing to answer to your questions…”
She said if families are not comfortable with the quality, they draw the attention of the directors of the clinic and hospital, speak up on the issue and post their comments on social media.
“So there is plenty that mothers and families can do to help protect the newborns. It is not all in the hands of the doctors, nurses and birth attendants,” she summed up.