2018’s first baby – a girl – was born at 1.44 am on New Year’s Day in Suva, the island capital of Fiji, a country in the Pacific. Joana Sovocala, in her late 30’s, gave birth to her seventh child at Suva’s Colonial War Memorial Hospital.
The New Year baby, who weighs 3.3 kg, is named Vilisi Ciri Sovocala. Born without complications after 6 hours of labour, both mother and baby are healthy and doing well.
Immeditaely after birth, Joana hugged and breastfed her baby to reduce any chances of infection. Delaying breastfeeding by 2-23 hours after birth can increase the risk of a newborn dying by more than 40 per cent.
UNICEF’s estimates show that 47 babies will be born in Fiji on New Year’s Day. The Fijian baby will join nearly 386,000 children to be born worldwide on New Year’s Day, including about 770 babies across the Pacific Islands. While many of these babies will survive, some will not make it past their first day. In 2016, an estimated 2,600 children died globally within the first 24 hours every day of the year. Of every thousand babies born in Fiji, 9 children died in the first month.
In all, 2.6 million children died before the end of their first month in 2016. Among those, more than 80 per cent of all newborn deaths are due to preventable and treatable causes such as premature birth, complications during delivery, and infections like sepsis and pneumonia. In February, UNICEF will launch a new global campaign demanding affordable, quality health care for every mother and newborn.