Fijian Laisani Raisili with her son, Mitieli Digitaki, one of the first world newborn babies for 2020 (Photo credit: UNICEF)
An estimated 3,916 babies were born in Uganda on New Year’s Day, 2020, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
This accounted for approximately one per cent of the estimated 392,078 babies who were born worldwide on the same day.
Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director called for a reflection of aspirations for the future of the current generation and the one to come.
“The beginning of a new year and a new decade is an opportunity to reflect on our hopes and aspirations not only for our future, but the future of those who will come after us.”
“As the calendar flips each January, we are reminded of all the possibility and potential of each child embarking on her or his life’s journey—if they are just given that chance,” she added.
It is their tradition that each year, UNICEF celebrates babies born around the world on New Year’s Day.
There has been a remarkable progress in child survival in the world over the past three decades, cutting the number of children who die world over prior to their fifth birthday by more than a half. But there has been slower progress for newborns, according to UNICEF.
Babies dying in the first month account for 47 per cent of all deaths among children under five in 2018, up from 40 per cent in 1990.
UNICEF says that in Uganda, new born deaths have stagnated at 27 per cent per 1,000 live births.
It adds that complications of prematurity, birth asphyxia and severe infections are leading causes of new born mortality, while one third of under-five deaths is due to largely preventable or treatable conditions like malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea.
However, Dr Jane Ruth Achieng, Minister of Health says there is a continued progress in overall child mortality reduction with the government investing in delivery of essential and quality health services.
Between 2011 and 2016, under-five mortality in Uganda reduced from 90 to 64 per 1,000 live births.
“The Government of Uganda has invested in ensuring child survival through community and facility level interventions hence the reductions we see in child mortality.
Additional efforts will focus on bringing services closer to our people through infrastructural development, including advanced care for all newborns by establishing special care units in Hospitals and Health Centre IVs.”
“The Ministry will also strengthen human resource availability and capacity to provide quality care for newborns especially the small and sick babies,” she added.
With the support of UNICEF and other partners, other evidence based high impact interventions to improve access of mothers, newborns and children to timely and quality health care are being implemented across the country.
The interventions include: ensuring availability of skilled, competent and motivated health workers through training and skills development, provision of essential equipment, commodities and supplies including blood.
Others are; installation of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in health centers to prevent infections and a functional referral system for mothers and children with danger signs, especially those in hard to reach areas.
Worldwide, UNICEF’s Every Child Alive campaign calls for immediate investment in health workers with the right training being equipped with the right medicines to ensure every mother and newborn is cared for by a safe pair of hands to prevent and treat complications during pregnancy, delivery and birth.
Noreen Prendiville, Deputy Representative, UNICEF Uganda said “Every year, every decade, lives of millions of children are cut short. Even one life lost is far too many.”
Prendiville added: “Together, we can change this. With affordable and simple health interventions we can ensure more babies survive to celebrate the first month of life and live into this decade.”