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FEU leads first Philippine research on stillbirth and neonatal deaths | Philstar.com
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Health And Family

FEU leads first Philippine research on stillbirth and neonatal deaths

Dolly Dy-Zulueta - Philstar.com
FEU leads first Philippine research on stillbirth and neonatal deaths

MANILA, Philippines — The figures are alarming: according to the 2021 World Health Organization country key indicators, the Philippines has a still birth rate of 10.17 per 1,000 births, and a neonatal mortality rate of 12.28 (0-27 completed days of life) per 1,000 births.

Moreover, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund released an article last January 2023 mentioning that the Philippines has an annual record of more than 25,000 stillborn babies.

So many stillbirths, or deaths of babies before or during delivery, and yet there has been no recorded comprehensive research on stillbirths and neonatal deaths so that no one really understands what is going on inside the mind of a mother who has lost her child in such a traumatic way. So no one knows how to help her cope with the situation.

The good news is that now there is a research initiative that will look into the matter. It is called "Continuing care in COVID-19 Outbreak: A global survey of New expectant and bereaved parent experiences" (COCOON) and is led by Far Eastern University (FEU), as the Philippines is one of its contributing countries.

“COCOON Philippines is a collaborative project between FEU and the University of Queensland. It is a global project conducted in different countries. We are also collaborating with Mater Research Institute, King’s College London, and International Stillbirth Alliance.,” says Dr. Joemer Maravilla, supervising coordinator of COCOON and adjunct faculty of the FEU Nursing Department.

FEU is primarily funding COCOON Philippines through its University Research Assistance Grant (URAG), a university-wide research time and financial assistance to FEU academic researchers. The project is currently funded until 2026 and is headed by the principal investigator Asst. Prof. Joycelyn Abiog Filoteo of the Nursing Department, with Dr. Ana Nelia Lopez Jumamil of the Psychology Department as co-leads.

This project is one of the first projects in the university where two disciplines collaborate: nursing and psychology. It is also the first study in the Philippines that aims to look at the social determinants of stillbirth and neonatal deaths to parents.

Maravilla explained that, according to the Department of Health, the Philippine government has no specific projects on bereavement care for mothers who had experienced stillbirth and neonatal death, thus positioning COCOON Philippines in the forefront of accessing and understanding the experiences and concerns of bereaved parents and developing support services appropriate for them.

“The focus of the country, at the moment, is to help mothers with safe deliveries but in cases of loss, we have no guidelines or in-depth data on it in the Philippines. We know there are cases of stillbirth and neonatal losses, but we do not know the solutions, the coping strategies we can introduce to help the grieving parents. And that is one of the expected outcomes of our study,” said Maravilla.

COCOON Philippines aims to include 1,100 participants, composed of pregnant women, women who experienced stillbirth and neonatal death, and their partners. The data collection involves a mixed self-administered online survey and face-to-face survey in Metro Manila and Region IV-A (CALABARZON). Research participants will receive P250 as compensation for their time taking the survey.

As of now, COCOON Philippines has already launched its official Facebook page, which will serve as the research’s avenue in looking for additional participants. For people who want to join this global initiative to improve women’s health and bereavement services, or if they know of others who are willing to participate, they can visit and message https://www.facebook.com/cocoon.pinas.

Due to the sensitive nature of the study, links to online survey will not be released publicly and will only be given to the successfully screened participants.

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