Sunday, November 20, 2016

14th National Newborn Screening Convention: Celebrating 20 Years of Newborn Screening

Written by Zyra Nikka Indap

PASAY CITY- It was a cloudy afternoon but it didn’t hinder to unite more than 1,800 health professionals, advocates and guests from different regions of the country to gather and celebrate the first two decades of Newborn Screening in the Philippines. 

This year’s NBS convention with the theme, “Celebrating 20 Years of Newborn Screening towards Overall Screening and Management”, was held on October 25 and 26 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Pasay City. The event annually organized by the Newborn Screening Society of the Philippines Inc. (NSSPI) and Newborn Screening Reference Center (NSRC)-National Institute of Health (NIH), University of the Philippines – Manila aimed to update the participants through the talks by invited local and international experts.

Day One (October 25)

The President of NSSPI, Dr. Ephraim Neal Orteza cordially welcomed the delegates. Followed by special messages delivered by Dr. Eva Maria Cutiongco de la Paz, Vice-Chancellor for Research of UP Manila and Executive Director of National Institutes of Health and Undersecretary Florita Villar delivered the inspirational message on behalf of Secretary Judy Taguiwalo. Usec. Villar emphasized health as one of the rights of the children to be protected by which it concerns the department. Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, Director of Disease Prevention and Control Bureau of the Department of Health (DOH), previewed DOH’s comprehensive range programs for newborns through his keynote address on behalf on Department of Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial. 

The first plenary session was led by Dr. Carmencita Padilla, Chancellor of UP Manila and pillar of the implementation of NBS in the country. She vividly discussed the challenges and success in the past 20 years and presented a preview into the nest 20 years. Dr. Padilla highlighted the milestones of NBS implementation including development in neighboring Asian countries. “I can proudly say that this is a successful program because of volunteerism, whether resulting from professional feeling of national responsibility or a simple desire to do good” said Dr. Padilla. She also acknowledged the contribution of each individual’s volunteerism in reaching the goals of the NBS program and encouraged everyone to advocate for Expanded Newborn Screening (ENBS). The launch of ENBS last December 2014 has allowed the testing of 22 additional disorders aside from the basic panel of six disorders namely Congenital Hypothyroidism (CH), Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH), Phenylketonuria (PKU), G6PD Deficiency (G6PDD), Galactosemia, and Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD).

Dr. Maria Melanie Liberty Alcausin, Director of Newborn Screening Reference Center brought new hopes in implementing the program as she discussed plans for new newborn screening centers (NSCs) and an update on confirmatory centers. She further gave details on the coverage of Expanded Newborn Screening program (ENBS). On the other hand, Dr. Reynaldo de Castro Jr. gave updates on thalessemias beyond the NBS program. He believes that screening leads to prevention of these congenital hemolytic disorders. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

VYLH reps exchange best practices with Colombian Youth Leaders

Written by Joan Barredo (K4, Zamboanga City) 

VYLH-Philippines and the Colombian youth leaders joined by Colombia Joven Adviser Maria Francisca Cepeda,
Ugnayan ng Pahinungod UP Manila Advocacy Program Coordinator Davis Tan and Institute of Human Genetics-
NIH, UP Manila Director Dr. Mary Ann Chiong.

Representatives of Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health (VYLH)- Philippines met and shared various youth advocacy activities and best practices of the network with youth leaders from Colombia last October 24, 2016 at the Chancellor's Board Room, Philippine General Hospital - University of the Philippines - Manila.

The Colombian youth delegation all form part of the top winners recognized at the Fourth National Youth Volunteering Award. The awardees were selected from 190 nominees across Colombia and were chosen by a high-level committee composed of representatives from local, international, public and civil society organizations. 

Members of the Colombian Deelgation. From L to R:
Maritza Mera, Valentina Posada, Diana Montoya and
Jose Fabian Gonzalez
The national recognition came with an exposure trip to the Philippines aimed on facilitating the exchange of experiences between young people of both countries. The mission is part of the South-South Cooperation Initiative of “Strengthening Youth Organizations” between Colombia and the Philippines. 

The Colombian delegation include Diana Paola Montoya of the Association of Scouts, Jose Fabian Gonzalez of Fundacion Juvenil Laguna Verde, Valentina Cardona Posada of Institution Educativa Eduardo Santos, and Maritza Fernanda Mera of Microsoft Student Partner – University of Cauca. According to the head of the delegation,  Ms. Maria Francisca Cepeda, "they come from different groups in Colombia and they were all recognized based from the remarkable and life-changing activities that they do for their communities." Cepeda is also the advisor of the Directorate of the Colombian National Youth System “Colombia Joven”.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Redefining Gene-by-Environment Interaction

Insights of a “Gene” on the Implementation of K4Health

by Rochelle Sarmiento (Kabilin, NCR-SL)

Almost always in every Genetics-related lecture I have so far tried to comprehend, and, seemingly, fortunate to have understood, my professors would emphasize that the very traits being expressed by any organism are a product of the interplay of various genetic and environmental factors. In several instances, they would tell— one hand holding the microphone, a leg stancing forward, and eyes looking towards the sea of fascinated and uninterested students alike— that as an individual ages, the environment he is predisposed to would hugely play a role on what makes him basically him.

Such notion is a widely accepted and acknowledged pillar of the concepts in Genetics. And when conceptually applied to matters of prime and social relevance, it would also pose an equally worth noting idea: that our perspectives on certain issues in the society may be influenced by the surroundings we find ourselves in and the people we have the opportunity to interact with.

The Program

Take as an example the conduct of the K4Health Community Youth Training Program. True to the meaning of K4, Kabataang Kabalikat ng Komunidad para sa Kalusugan, the primary aim of the said activity is to spark active participation among the youth towards sustainable improvement of the health of the people.

Having made its pilot and second implementations at the Municipality of Nampicuan in Nueva Ecija last June 7 to 9 and August 27 to 28, respectively, the program has been able to produce 27 volunteer youth leaders (VYLs) who are trained to be on the forefront of raising awareness on the importance of folic acid supplementation and newborn screening in their community.

Barangay Service Point Ofiicers (BSPO), GeneSoc facilitators, and youth volunteers of Nampicuan assemble for a photo opportunity after the special portion of the training program intended for BSPOs (Photo: GeneSoc)

Sunday, October 02, 2016

VYLH Visayas goes full circle with first Eastern Visayas Youth Camp

Written by Janelle Ruiz

The Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health (VYLH)-Philippines, with support from the Department of Health – Eastern Visayas Regional Office (DOH-RO8) and Newborn Screening Center-Visayas (NSCV), welcomed new volunteers from Eastern Visayas in a youth camp held at San Juanico Park and Country Club, Tacloban City last September 17-18, 2016.  

With the theme “Revolutionizing Health Promotion through Youth Participation”, the camp marked the first recruitment and training venture of the network in Region 8 and it was participated by youth leaders from Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Biliran and Leyte. The camp was facilitated by volunteers from prior batches (Pioneer, K4, I3, E4 and Hiraya) as part of their commitment to the network and the tradition of passing the VYLH culture and practices to new volunteers.

The camp opened with an introduction to VYLH-Philippines facilitated by NCR-South Luzon Cluster Coordinator Rufus Adducul (I3) and Visyas Cluster Secretariat Floyd Edrea, RN (Pioneer) which was followed by an inspirational video message from the national adviser Dr. Carmencita Padilla, MD, MAHPS. Meanwhile, National President Christian Emmanuel Enriquez, RN (K4) emphasized the role of the youth in health issues. 

Invited guests graced the event and gave important talks related to the advocacies of the network. These include Ms. Yugie Caroline Demegilio, RN, MAP of NSCV on newborn screening; Dr. Lilibeth Andrade, Mr. Marvin Allen Guy-Joco, RN and Ms. Wenonah Wae Tutaan, RN on DOH programs and the progress of newborn screening in Eastern Visayas; Dr. Barbra Charina Cavan on the birth defect surveillance and the importance of folic acid supplementation; and Ms. Aster Lynn Sur, RN on preconception health and orphan disorders.    

Similar to other VYLH youth camps,the camp will not be complete without the team building that is expected to ignite camaraderie and test the leadership skills of the participants. After the participants were divided into groups, each group prepared yells and completed the tasks given in every station. Indeed, their hardwork, teamwork and patience paid off. All of the teams successfully finished the tasks.

The most awaited part of the camp is the commitment ritual where the participants solemnly pledged to uphold the principles of the network, serve their community, and share the advocacy of the network. During the solemn ritual, the facilitators lighted the candles with the names of the new volunteers as a sign of passing the legacy of the network.

The second day of the camp started with the morning exercise and a talk from Engr. John Paul Oira (K4) on Social Media and the Filipino Youth Volunteer. After the talk, National Secretariat Ms. Aster Lynn Sur facilitated the seminar on action plan construction and youth mobilization. The participants were divided according to their province for the regional planning session.  

But this was not the end of the two-day camp, as part of the VYLH-Philippines tradition, the new volunteers showcased their talents as each provincial group prepared traditional presentations. The facilitators were also not exempted as they presented the traditional dance of Eastern Visayas, the Kuracha. 

The Region 8 camp may have ended so fast, but the memories will live forever. The VYLH legacy will definitely continue as we save more babies and the future generations.

The new volunteers from Eastern Visayas were enlisted to the sixth and latest batch of VYLH-Philippines volunteers, Batch Kabilin. Kabilin is a Cebuano word for heritage or legacy. 

Aside from the event being the first youth camp in Eastern Visayas, the camp also completed the 2016 regional youth camp series in the Visayas after the successful conduct of the Western and Central Visayas youth camps last April and August, respectively.# 

Janelle Ruiz is a Registered Nurse and graduate of the University of San Carlos College of Nursing. She is a former President of the USC Nursing Student Organization (AY 2015-2016). Janelle became affiliated to the network as she participated in the 2013 Central Visayas Regional Youth Camp.

Editor Ryan John Pascual

Thursday, September 15, 2016

VYLH-Philippines dubbed YouthLeadGlobal Top Model Youth Leadership Program

Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health (VYLH) - Philippines was selected as one of the Top Model Youth Leadership Programs of 2016 by the global youth leadership program search, YouthLeadGlobal. 

YouthLeadGlobal is a collaborative engagement of Leadership, Management & Governance (LMG) Project, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), International Youth Alliance for Family Planning and Youth Health and Rights Coalition. 

The global review aims to identify and examine effective youth leadership programs, models and strategies from around the world that aim to improve health outcomes for the youth through leadership. Qualified programs give focus on the youth’s health, as well as nurturing their leadership and knowledge skills. Such programs must have demonstrated positive outcomes for the youth in general, including the development of health services of youth-oriented organisations and communities. Furthermore, these programs should provide opportunities for the youth to practice leadership.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

VYLH-Philippines holds 3rd Central Visayas Regional Youth Camp

Written by Kristofer Ralph Supil, RN (Hiraya, Dumaguete)

Way up north in the island of Cebu, the waves splashed and glimmered from the sunbeams as the second leg of the Visayas cluster camps was about to commence. New volunteers from two regions, from five different provinces, came to grace the occasion. Surrounded by their ates and kuyas for the first time, new volunteers were welcomed in the best way possible, the VYLH style.

The two days in the camp would prove to be monumental in their journey to become leaders in the Philippines. They signed up for something bigger than themselves.

The delegates from the provinces of Cebu, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, Bohol, and Siquijor, took part in their very first step in becoming a volunteer youth leader for health. Popularly known as VYLH-Philippines, the organization has been running since 2009, slowly growing in number, and constantly strengthening its network with volunteer youth leaders who have a passion for leadership and health. These volunteers from different parts of the country are currently focusing on three advocacies: the campaign on folic acid awareness, the promotion on newborn screening, and the lobbying of support for rare and orphan disorders. The organization has been successful so far in mobilizing the youth in making a dent, a profound change, in history.

With the efforts of the organizing committee and the support of the Department of Health Regional Office VII (DOH RO7), Newborn Screening Center Visayas (NSCV) and the Institute of Human Genetics (IHG-NIH, UP Manila), the second leg of this year's regional camp to usher in a new wave of passionate leaders was made possible.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

VYLH-Philippines spearheads 1st Nat’l Social media day for Folic acid Awareness #FolicAcidPH


In observance of this year’s Nutrition Month and National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week, the Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health (VYLH)-Philippines together with the Institute of Human Genetics, NIH-UP Manila launched #FolicAcidPH, the first National Social Media Day for Folic Acid Awareness last July 18, 2016. 

Studies have shown that the intake of folic acid or vitamin B9 through supplements and fortified foods can significantly reduce the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) or problems on the development of the baby’s brain and spine. NTDs comprise one of the most common group of serious birth defects which may result in immediate infant death, deformity or disability. 

Although there are efforts directed towards increasing awareness, knowledge and consumption of folic acid, the full potential of folic acid to reduce the risk of NTDs has not yet realized in most countries, including the Philippines. At present, there is also no existing legislation on folic acid fortification, supplementation, public education and promotion in the Philippines. 

The #FolicAcidPH social media campaign which aims to increase public awareness on folic acid, its sources, and its role in good health and the prevention of NTDs was able to gain the support and active participation of 49 partner organizations: 45 university-based organizations, 3 national student alliances/organizations and one non-government organization. The campaign was convened by VYLH-Philippines Former National President and Pioneer member Ryan John Pascual.