By Ajuma Edwina Ameh
As 2021 rolls in, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has projected that an estimated 21,439 babies will be born in Nigeria on New Year Day, January 1, 2021.
UNICEF said globally, over half of the New year’s births are estimated to take place in 10 countries with Nigeria having the third highest number of births after India 59,995 and China 35,615.
The organisation which disclosed this in a statement made available to Persecondnews, stated that Nigerian babies will account for nearly six per cent of the estimated 371,504 babies born globally on New Year Day.
“Their average life expectancy is expected to be 62.8 years – compared to a global average of 84 years. New years’ babies born in Ghana and neighbouring Niger have life expectancies of 73 and 71.4 years, respectively.
“Babies born in Central African Republic and Chad will have a similar life expectancy to those born in Nigeria – only 1.4 years less, at 61.4. This is the lowest life expectancy in the world.
“The highest life expectancy, at 116.4, is for children born in Switzerland.
“These figures, while difficult to contemplate, are estimates and not predetermined – there are many things we can do to improve the fate of those children born today in Nigeria. We can and must work to change the underlying factors that can improve the life expectancy of Nigerian children.
“This has been a difficult year, and there is perhaps no better way to turn the page than to welcome new young lives into the world. There are many opportunities before us in 2021, and now is the time to begin to build a better society for our children.
“Children born today will inherit the Nigeria we begin to build for them,” the acting UNICEF Nigeria Representative, Renu Wadhwa, said.
UNICEF stated that more than 14 million Nigerian children are chronically malnourished and 2.7 million acutely malnourished, adding that strengthening the health, food, water, sanitation and social protection systems can reverse these high numbers and keep children alive.
“As much as 43 per cent of Nigerian children do not receive all their recommended vaccinations at the right time – a critical step towards ensuring survival and good health.
“Birth registration of Nigerian children under one year is still only 4.0 per cent and 54 per cent for children under 5 years.
“Achieving universal birth registration is an important platform for allowing children to access health care and other critical services throughout their lives.
“We can make Nigeria a better place for children to survive and thrive. This new year offers a new slate with opportunities to reimagine, respond, recover and indeed build a more equitable and safer Nigeria for children, especially the girl child.
“As we navigate a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the economic and other challenges it may bring, UNICEF reaffirms its commitment to working together with the Nigerian government and people to promote and protect the rights and welfare of Nigerian children.
“To ensure that from this day of their birth onwards, they have a future they can look forward to,” Wadhwa said.