The Official Publication of Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health - Philippines

VYLH-Philippines spearheads first National 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. 

The following are the partner organizations of the inaugural folic acid awareness social media day:
  • Adamson Nursing Student's Association (Adamson University)
  • Philippine Association of Nutrition Psi Gamma Chapter (Collegio de San Juan de Letran)
  • Human Biology Association of De La Salle Health Science Institute (DLS HSI)
  • FEU Biological Science Society
  • Asian Medical Students Association (AMSA) FEU NRMF
  • Philippine Normal University - College Y Club
  • PNU Student Volunteers' Organization
  • PNU Biological Society
  • Philippine Association of Nutrition Alpha Epsilon Chapter  
  • Junior People Management Association of the Philippines-PUP Taguig Chapter
  • Social Action Medical Students Association - San Beda
  • UP Children’s Rights Advocates League (UP CRAdLe)
  • University of the Philippines Volunteers for Children (UPVFC)
  • The UPLB Genetics Society
  • Philippine Association of Nutrition Alpha Omega Chapter (UP Los Baños)
  • The UPLB Society of Pre-Med Students 
  • UPLB College of Human Ecology Student Council
  • UP Health Sciences and Pre-Medicine Society (UP Manila)
  • UP Biological Sciences Society (UP Manila)
  • UP Manila Biology Majors Association/BIOMAS
  • Public Health Artists' Circle (UP Manila)
  • UP College of Allied Medical Professions Student Council (UP Manila)
  • SIBOL-PH (UP Manila)
  • Bigkis ng mga Iskolar para sa Bayan tungo sa Makabuluhang Pagbabago (BIGKIS-UP Manila)
  • UP Manila College of Public Health Student Council
  • Rotaract Club of UP Manila
  • ALAB (UP Manila)
  • The Public Herald
  • UP Pharmaceutical Association Student Council (UPPhA SC)
  • Young Empowered Advocates Towards Responsive Nursing  (UP Manila)
  • Future Physicians for Health and Human Rights (St. Louis University)
  • Alpha Mu Sigma Phi (Cebu Institute of Medicine )
  • Student Pharmacists Association  (Central Philippine University)
  • PH Pub (UP Visayas)
  • TAMBAL (University of St. La Salle)
  • Asian Medical Students Association (AMSA) - West Visayas State University (WVSU)
  • Order of Asclepius (West Visayas State University)
  • Microbia (West Visayas State University)
  • Central Mindanao University Supreme Student Council
  • CMU College of Human Ecology Student Council
  • CMU College of Education Student Council
  • Junior Nutritionist Dietitians Association of the Philippines – CMU 
  • CMU University Senior Student Council 2016-17
  • Philippine Association of Food Technologists, Inc.- Lambda Chapter (PAFT- λ UP Mindanao)
  • Alliance of Philippines Pre-Medical Societies
  • Association of Philippine Medical Colleges - Student Network (APMC-SN) 
  • Asian Medical Students' Association Philippines (AMSA Philippines)
  • HealthJustice Philippines

Social Media Statistics

With the overwhelming turnout and response of our partners and campaign supporters in Facebook, Thunderclap and Twitter, #FolicAcidPH has proven that the Filipino youth and the social media community are abled partners in building a healthier nation. 

The campaign’s partner organizations and their members led the dissemination of campaign messages and infographics posted in the #FolicAcidPH Facebook page. As of July 18, the campaign page was supported by more than 1,100 users and an accumulated reach of 59,320 users. Majority of the people who liked the facebook page were women aged 18-24. Women account to 70% of the supporters of the page. The page has also obtained more than 17,000 post engagements which include more than 6,800 post likes since the creation of the page on the start of the month. 

In Twitter and Facebook, the campaign accumulated more than 85,000 reach and impressions. Moreover, the common #FolicAcidPH message was successfully posted through Thunderclap at exactly 6:00 PM of the campaign date with 333 supporters and a total social reach of 556,119. Social reach refers to the total sum of all of the campaign supporters’ friends and followers.

Fansign photos in support of #FolicAcidPH were also posted online by supporters and participating organizations. Meanwhile, Facebook display photo campaigns were also organized by the UP Biological Sciences Society, UP Biology Major Association, and UP Manila College of Allied Medical Professions (CAMP) Student Council. 

Media partners namely MommyBloggers Philippines, Doktor Doktor Lads, PH for PH (Public Health for the Philippines), the Public Herald (CPH-UP Manila) and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) gave space for the promotion of the campaign in their platforms by posting the campaign media release. The Newborn Screening Reference Center-NIH, UP Manila also sent an email blast on the campaign to its network. On the other hand, #FolicAcidPH partner organizations Order of Asclepius and the Alliance of Philippine Pre-Medical Societies prepared infographics about folic acid that were posted in their social media pages.

Bringing #FolicAcidPH on the ground

In addition to social media participation, “on the ground” activities were also conducted by participating organizations. School-based and room-to-room campaigns were organized Junior People Management Association of the Philippines – PUP Taguig Chapter, Rotaract Club of UP Manila, BIGKIS-UP Manila, Student Pharmacists Association – Central Philippine University (Iloilo), Central Mindanao University College of Human Ecology Student Council (Bukidnon), and the Junior Nutritionist and Dietitian Association of the Philippines – CMU (Bukidnon).

VYLH-Philippines Nampicuan Chapter participated through #FolicAcidPH fansigns with local leaders and separate advocacy discussions to senior high school students and parents. The group also joined the Nutrition Month Celebration of the Municipality of Nampicuan where volunteers had an advocacy display on folic acid at the event. They also gave a lecture on the importance of folic acid supplementation during the event. 

Because of #FolicAcidPH, VYLH-Philippines was invited to attend the Regional Stakeholder's Forum organized by National Nutrition Council – NCR. With the theme “Setting the Child’s Future during the First 1000 Days”, the event held on July 21 at the Heritage Hotel, Pasay City was attended by more than 300 stakeholders from different LGUs, agencies, and sectors in Metro Manila. In the forum, "Folic Acid and Pregnancy” was discussed by Dr. April Grace Dion-Berboso, Assistant Director of the Institute of Human Genetics, National Institute of Health, UP Manila and Cluster Adviser of VYLH-Philippines NCR-South Luzon.

In Iloilo, the Asian Medical Students' Association West Visayas State University (AMSA West Visayas State University WVSU), in cooperation with VYLH Philippines-Iloilo Chapter, held a forum entitled “#FolicAcidPH and the Youth” last July 30. 

The forum aimed to promote folic acid deficiency prevention and awareness through the initiative and commitment of the youth which was actively participated by representatives from the WVSU College of Communication (WVSU-COC). The forum consisted of a short talk by an AMSA-WVSU representative and an open forum, facilitated by an obstetrician-gynecologist, Dr. Ma. Lucille S. Rufon. The participants were also encouraged to formulate a project proposal that will uphold the #FolicAcidPH advocacy. A certificate of commitment was also signed by the organizing parties and WVSU-COC representatives.

About VYLH-Philippines

Aside from the social media campaign, VYLH-Philippines also celebrated its 7th Founding Anniversary. It was on the night of July 18, 2009 when its pioneer batch composed of 78 volunteer youth leaders accepted the challenge of promoting folic acid awareness as one of the flagship health advocacies of the network.

The Volunteers Youth Leaders for Health – Philippines (VYLH-Philippines) is a national collaboration of youth leaders of youth organizations in universities and communities in the Philippines. VYLH is part of an international effort to establish the March of Dimes - Global Network for Maternal and Infant Health (GNMIH) participated by youth counterparts in China and Lebanon linked by the common interest of volunteerism and public service, to improve birth outcomes worldwide through advocacy.

Since its formation, VYLH has led the youth in promoting public awareness on folic acid and its role in the prevention of neural tube defects, newborn screening, prematurity awareness, preconception health, as well as the rights and needs of Filipinos with rare disease.#

RPascual with reports from participating organizations.


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