DAR ES SALAAM
Approximately 48,000 babies will be born in the eastern and southern Africa region on New Year’s Day, Unicef has said in its Levels & Trends in Child Mortality 2017 Report.
More than 4,000 of them would be born in Kenya, the report estimates.
The UN report also revealed that babies born in the region would account for 12 per cent of the estimated 386,000 babies to be born globally on New Year’s Day.
Almost 58 per cent of the births in eastern and southern Africa would take place in five countries within the region, with the largest number of births on New Year’s Day projected for Ethiopia with 9,023, Tanzania (5,995), Uganda (4,953), Kenya (4,237) and Angola (3,417), the report said.
It also noted a marked progress in child survival that saw the number of children worldwide who died before their fifth birthday halved to 5.6 million in 2016.
“The government’s high-impact programmes such as immunisation, promotion of breastfeeding, Vitamin A supplementation, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and improved management of common childhood illnesses, have saved lives of children across the country,” said Maniza Zaman, Unicef Tanzania representative.
In February, Unicef will launch Every Child Alive, a global campaign to demand and deliver affordable, quality healthcare solutions for every mother and newborn.
This includes a steady supply of clean water and electricity at health facilities, the presence of a skilled health attendant during birth, disinfecting the umbilical cord, breastfeeding within the first hour after birth, and skin-to-skin contact between the mother and child.
About 270 children under five die daily in Tanzania, mostly from preventable causes such as malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhoea. Around 60 per cent of the deaths occur in the first year of life.
The UN agency revealed that 46,000 newborns died in Tanzania last year, placing the nation ninth among 10 countries with the highest neonatal deaths in the world.
“We call on governments and partners to maintain and expand their efforts to save millions of children’s lives by providing proven, low-cost solutions,” appealed Leila Pakkala, Unicef’s regional director in Eastern and Southern Africa.