“I HOPE he will forgive me because I haven’t made any progress yet.”
Analiza Silva, 21, lost her newborn child in 2021. More than a year after losing her son, she recalled one of the most devastating times of her life.
Analiza gave birth to a seven-month premature baby named Ghyro Nicholas Quizon. Due to prematurity, her son was diagnosed with respiratory distress syndrome; she said her son was having breathing difficulties, which prompted the hospital to incubate her son.
There were times, according to Analiza, during her pregnancy when her son suddenly stopped breathing because his lungs were not fully-developed yet.
“My doctor told me that her breathing is dependent on me,” she said.
Seven days later, Ghyro passed away.
According to the 2023 report from the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation said that some 1.9 million babies were stillborn in 2021.
The UN said there were 13.9 stillbirths per 1,000 births worldwide a year. It said one stillborn child is born every 17 seconds or one in every 72 births. However, given that there is underreporting of stillbirths, the data may be underestimated, and cases could be more than the reported number.
Over 60,000 infants in the Philippines lose their lives before turning five each year due to infectious diseases, intrapartum problems, and prematurity. Each year, more than 25,000 babies are stillborn, the Unicef said.
The Unicef recommended that to ensure that all children receive a complete course of vaccinations and to fulfill its obligations for ensuring excellent health and nutrition throughout the first 1,000 days of life, the Philippines must enhance access to high-quality maternal and child health and nutrition services.
Nearly 60 percent of infant deaths in the Philippines occur before the age of five, highlighting the need to improve maternal and fetal health and nutrition, said the report.
Reacting to the report released by Unicef, the Department of Health said in a media forum that pregnant mothers are encouraged to only deliver their child in prescribed birthing facilities to prevent stillbirths. The health department noted that the spike in stillbirths was due to the quarantine restrictions during the height of the pandemic.
“Based on our analysis, many did not access these services (maternal health), so many gave birth again at home,” DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said
The DOH did not provide data regarding the number of stillbirths recorded by the health department but said there had been a spike in terms of maternal deaths for the past two years because mothers gave birth at home.
“We can see that there is a slight spike in the number of maternal deaths for the past two years,” she said.
Aside from home-based birth delivery, Vergeire said there is also an increased risk that a child being delivered will have complications after birth.
A higher chance of death could also be an effect of giving birth at home, said the DOH.
The DOH also attributed the number of stillbirths to the decline in children getting inoculated with primary vaccines.
Vergeire said that during the past two years, many Filipino youths also had more progressive malnutrition because of the lack of nutrients they received.
“We will always remember that when the child is malnourished, he is more prone to diseases because he gets more and more different types of diseases and their risks of having severe complications or dying because of this increase [of stillbirths],” said Vergeire.
“It’s not easy.”
For Analiza, it would take a lifetime for her to forgive herself for not being able to hold his son for one last time or at least take a small step to move forward.