An estimated 392,000 children will be born worldwide on the first day of the new year, according to a United Nations projection, as it called for better protection and healthcare for mothers and newborns.
India topped the ranking of countries that will have the most births – projected at 67,385 – on Wednesday, followed by China with 46,299 and Nigeria in third place with 26,039, UNICEF, the UN’s Children’s Fund, said.
The small island nation of Fiji was expected to deliver 2020’s first baby.
“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,” Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, said in a statement.
“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.”
While the number of children worldwide who die before reaching the age of five has been cut by more than half in the past three decades, there has been slower progress for newborns, UNICEF noted.
In 2018, the number of newborns that died in their first month of life was 2.5 million, including one-third of them on their first day of life.
Most died from preventable causes.
UNICEF said babies dying in the first month accounted for 47 percent of all deaths among children below the age of five in 2018, up from 40 percent in 1990.
The organisation called for better training of health workers and immediate investment to ensure mothers and newborns are in safe hands during pregnancy, delivery and birth.
“Too many mothers and newborns are not being cared for by a trained and equipped midwife or nurse, and the results are devastating,” said Fore.
“We can ensure that millions of babies survive their first day and live into this decade and beyond if every one of them is born into a safe pair of hands.”