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PNG tops region in most New Year babies


PAPUA New Guinea accounted for most of the estimated 740 babies born in the Pacific islands on New Year’s Day, according to UNICEF.

The United Nations agency said yesterday that at least 90 per cent of births in the nine South Pacific countries were accounted for by hospitals and health centres in PNG.

Port Moresby General Hospital, the biggest hospital in the country, for example, recorded 33 New Year babies. According to UNICEF, the estimated births on New Year’s Day included PNG 609, the Solomon Islands 46, Fiji 35, Vanuatu 19, Samoa 13, Kiribati nine, Federated States of Micronesia seven and Tonga six.

UNICEF released the figures as it reminded the PNG Government and other governments that 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which UNICEF will be commemorating with worldwide events throughout the year. Under the convention, governments committed to, among other things, taking measures to save every child by providing good quality health care. During the past three decades, the world has seen remarkable progress in child survival, cutting the number of children worldwide who die before their fifth birthday by more than half. But there has been slower progress for newborns. Babies dying in the first month account for 47 per cent of all deaths among children under five.

“This New Year Day, let’s all make a resolution to fulfill every right of every child, starting with the right to survive,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Pacific representative. “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 Every Child Alive campaign calls for immediate investment to deliver affordable, quality health care solutions for every mother and newborn. These include a steady supply of clean water and electricity at health facilities, the presence of a skilled health attendant during birth, ample supplies and medicines to prevent and treat complications during pregnancy, delivery and birth, and empowered adolescent girls and women who can demand better quality of health services.

“Thirty years after world leaders committed to preserving children’s rights, we’re still losing newborns because of who they are or where they are from, Mr Yett said. “This year, we should renew our efforts to give every baby in the Pacific islands a chance to survive, to laugh, to cry, to play, to grow – to have a name and to have life.”

UNICEF said that in cities around the world, revelers will welcome not only the New Year with great festivities but also their newest and tiniest residents. As the clock strikes midnight, Sydney will greet an estimated 168 babies, followed by 310 in Tokyo, 605 in Beijing, 166 in Madrid and finally, 317 in New York.
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