The Official Publication of Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health - Philippines

#HealthXPh, VYLH-Philippines hold Preconception Health TweetChat

Does disability prevention begin in the womb? or earlier? “Prevention is better than cure” has always been a common and undoubtedly true saying. However, there is still a gap on how Filipinos carry this saying in preparing to have kids and start a family.

Last July 23, 2016, VYLH-Philippines together with #HealthXPH conducted a TweetChat on Preconception Health (PreCon) for Birth Defects and Disability Prevention. According to the TweetChat statistics compiled using Symplur, the one hour tweetchat which started at exactly 9:00 in the evening peaked with 560 tweets on the topic coming from 37 participants composed of doctors, medicine students and health advocates.

Moderated by Former VYLH-Philippines National President Ryan Pascual (@rypascual) with guidance from HealthXPh core collaborator Dr. Gia Sison (@giasison), the TweetChat session explored the possible reasons why preconception health consultation and awareness is not popular and the reforms or possible activities that can be done to improve PreCon awareness. The utilization of social media in improving PreCon awareness was also discussed. 

The tweetchat is part of the 7th Founding Anniversary Week of VYLH-Philippines and the network's observance of National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week. 

Make a PACT for prevention is a campaign
in improving birth outcomes and preventing
birth defects Photo: US CDC

What is Preconception Health? 

Preconception health refers to the health of women and men during their reproductive years or the years they can have a child. It focuses on taking steps that are important in protecting the health of a baby that they might have in the future. Hence, preconception health is important in the improvement of birth outcomes, particularly in the prevention of preterm birth, birth defects and disability.

There are a number of birth defects which are known to be preventable. These include neural tube defects or problems in the development of the brain and spine which are prevented through folic acid supplementation before pregnancy; and fetal alcohol syndrome by avoiding alcohol consumption during pregnancy and breastfeeding. 

The US CDC further expounded the importance of preconception health by emphasizing that everyone, both men and women and whether or not they plan to have a child, can benefit from preconception health. Accordingly, preconception health (PreCon) is about people getting healthy throughout their lives.
  • For women of reproductive age: PreCon means taking control and choosing healthy habits and feeling good about life, whether or not they plan to have a baby someday.
  • As a partner: PreCon means encouraging and supporting the health of your partner and your family.
  • For the babies: Getting PreCon means giving them the best chance for a healthy start in life. Taking care of your health will help reduce the risk of your baby being born preterm or with a low birth weight, and will increase its chances of being born without a birth defect or other disabling condition.

About #HealthXPH

In December 2013, online "conversations" between healthcare social media advocates in the Philippines led to the genesis of #HealthXPh. According to its website (, #HealthXPh is a collaborative platform by healthcare stakeholders such as healthcare professionals, healthcare institutions, academe, policy makers and patients to discuss and use, emerging technologies and social media to positively impact the Philippine health landscape. 

Five doctors namely Drs. Iris Isip-Tan (@endocrine_witch), Remo Aguilar (@bonedoc), Gia Sison (@giasison), Narciso Tapia (@cebumd) and Helen Madamba (@helenvmadamba) comprise the core collaborators of #HealthXPh. 

Since January 2014, the group has been hosting a regular TweetChat every Saturday from 9:00 to 10:00 in the evening. During the tweetchat, the group encourages stakeholders to participate in the discussion using the chat hashtag #HealthXPh. 

Participants of the 2nd Healthcare and Social Media (#hcmsPH) held
at the Philippine International Convention Center last
April 21, 2016 (Photo: HealthXPh)

The group has also organized the country’s Healthcare and Social Media (HCSMPH) Summit in 2015 and 2016. These events which covered major themes of HCSM such as ethics, policy, research, education, and advocacy have led to the creation of the manifesto on social media and medical professionalism, a social media research agenda, and the patient’s manifesto for social media.#

For the analytics and transcript of the tweetchat, please visit the following links:
Tweetchat Analytics | Transcript 

Ryan Pascual (@rypascual) is a BS Biology major in Plant Biology graduate from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (2010) and an MS student at UP Diliman. He is a proud member of The UPLB Genetics Society where he served as Education Committee Head (2008-09) and Folic Acid Campaign Committee Head (2009-10). He is also the first National President of VYLH-Philippines (2011-12). 

Cover Photo Modified from Mashable


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