The Official Publication of Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health - Philippines

  • Youth for Health

    VYLH-Philippines is a network of pro-active, service-oriented youth leaders and youth organizations linked by the common interest of volunteerism and public service, to improve birth outcomes through advocacy.

  • Promoting Volunteerism

    VYLH-Philippines is a network of pro-active, service-oriented youth leaders and youth organizations linked by the common interest of volunteerism and public service, to improve birth outcomes through advocacy.

  • A Culture of Concern and Commitment

    VYLH-Philippines is a network of pro-active, service-oriented youth leaders and youth organizations linked by the common interest of volunteerism and public service, to improve birth outcomes through advocacy.

  • Moving towards the Communities

    VYLH-Philippines is a network of pro-active, service-oriented youth leaders and youth organizations linked by the common interest of volunteerism and public service, to improve birth outcomes through advocacy.

  • Glocal and Proud to be Filipino

    VYLH-Philippines is a network of pro-active, service-oriented youth leaders and youth organizations linked by the common interest of volunteerism and public service, to improve birth outcomes through advocacy.

Palauig SHS students join VYLH-Philippines thru K4Health

PALAUIG, ZAMBALES - The Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health-Philippines conducted its third implementation of K4Health (Kabataan for Health) at Rofulo M. Landa High School in Palauig, Zambales from July 28-30.

The three-day training camp was done in partnership with the Local Government Unit of Palauig, Zambales. It was organized to mobilize the youth to be advocates for a healthier Philippines. After the training, the new volunteers will be under the supervision of the local health office. 

The event facilitated by eight members of The UPLB Genetics Society was participated by 26 senior high school students from two different schools namely: Locloc National High School and Rofulo M. Landa High School. They were also joined by their Supreme Student Government advisers and teachers.

Palauig DTTB Dr. Trisha Torga
The Palauig installment of K4Health differs from the previous implementations in Nampicuan, Nueva Ecija (2016) and Calapan, Oriental Mindoro (2017) with the inclusion of non-communicable disease prevention and teenage pregnancy prevention among the advocacies to be promoted by the student volunteers. These advocacies were suggested by Rural Health Physician and Doctor-to-the-Barrio (DTTB) Dr. Trisha Torga in consideration of the health statistics of the municipality. 

With these in mind, lectures on community health and development, teenage pregnancy, non-communicable diseases and volunteerism were given on the first day. Furthermore, lectures about preconception health and VYLH-Philippines advocacies namely folic acid awareness and newborn screening were taught on the second day. Through a role playing activity, groups were also tasked to show the possible real-life scenarios related to the advocacies supported by K4Health.

The newly inducted facis and youth volunteers were added to the roster of members under VYLH-Philippines Batch Kalilintad, the Maranao term meaning ‘peace’. 

On the last day of the training camp, an advocacy demonstration and slogan presentation of their assigned topic was done by each group as an evaluation of their knowledge and their ability on imparting these knowledge to others. Constructive criticism and review of their performance was also provided for each group presentation. Afterwards, the elections of officers of VYLH-Philippines K4Health Palauig was done with Rhenelyn Escoball of Locloc National High School elected as the President.

Some parents were also invited during the program and they were introduced to the network's advocacies through a small group discussion. Dr. Trisha Torga shared the services of the Municipal Health Offices.

The program ended with a closing remarks from The UPLB Genetics Society’s VYLH-Philippines Committee Head Mr. Joshua Hernandez saying, “Alam kong hindi niyo masasaulo in three days lahat ng tinuro namin. Ang gusto kong matutunan niyo yung sa tingin niyo naimpart namin yung advocacies at halaga nito yung kahit in your own words kaya niyong i-explain sa kapwa kabataan niyo.” (I know that you would not be able to remember within those three days everything that we have thought. But what I want all of you to learn are the advocacies at their essence which you can explain to other youths when put in your own words).

GeneSoc's VYLH-Philippines Committee Head
Joshua Hernandez
Written by Andrea Kariza Formantes (Batch Kabilin)
The UPLB Genetics Society

Team Proactive Kabilin, GeneSoc conduct “Araw ng Kabilin” for LB Nanays

LOS BANOS, LAGUNA - With a strong motivation to educate the women of Los Baños about preconception health, The UPLB Genetics Society (GeneSoc), as one of the member youth organizations of Team Proactive Kabilin, spearheaded “Araw ng Kabilin”, a preconception health fair held at the Municipal Hall of Los Baños, Laguna on July 20, 2017 (Thursday).

The “Araw ng Kabilin” is the culminating activity of Project Kabilin Kalusugan para sa LB Nanays, a youth-led initiative carried out by Team Proactive Kabilin and VYLH-Philippines, which seeks to promote public awareness on the importance of preconception health. The project drew inspiration from the absence of a preconception health program in the country. 

Project Kabilin Kalusugan is also the first community-based preconception health promotion program in the country.

Fourteen barangay health wokers who were previously trained by the team and 19 "nanays" from Brgy. Mayondon, the partner community of the project and other barangays of Los Baños attended the preconception fair. 

Project Kabilin Kalusugan is one of the finalists for the Ideas Positive (Run 7), a national competition organized by the Unilab Foundation which aims to stimulate and support youth projects that help solve public health concerns found in the community.

“Araw ng Kabilin” was launched alongside the observance of National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week which happened from July 19-23 of this year.

The term “Kabilin” is a Visayan term which means pamana or legacy. Combined with the term “Proactive”, it connotes that there is a need to safeguard and boost preconception health because it will soon have an impact on their health and their children. In addition to promoting informed and healthy choices, preconception health is important in the prevention of birth defects and pre-term births which can lead to infant death or long-term disabilities.

During the health fair, lectures were conducted regarding preconception health, importance of folic acid supplementation, newborn screening, and PhilHealth. The municipal health officer of Los Baños, Dr. Alvin Isidioro, graced the event and gave a message to the participants and project implementers.

The lecture on preconception health (PH) was given by Ms. Aster Lynn Sur, a registered nurse and Project Development Officer at the Institute of Human Genetics, National Institutes of Health - University of the Philippines Manila. Her talk delved into different scopes of PH such as preterm births, birth defects, and the LINC framework. 

LINC stands for healthy Lifestyle, Infection prevention, good Nutrition and Contraception or planning the family. The LINC or the four main aspects of preconception care was also used as the framework of the preconception health education sessions conducted in the community.

Preconception Health. Ms. Aster Lynn discussing the importance of having a good health before pregnancy.
Meanwhile, DOH NBS Program Nurse Coordinator for CALABARZON sir Jose Antonio Yap presented the second lecture which focused on the Newborn Screening Program (NBS). 

NBS is a medical program mandated by law under Republic Act 9288. It allows for the detection of some metabolic disorders that a newborn child could have. 

Mr. Yap, during his lecture, mentioned that newborn screening is very essential that it needs to be carried out 24 hours after birth.

Detecting Disorders. Mr. Jose Antonio Yap talks about the significance of Newborn Screening in newly-born infants.

He also underscored the six common metabolic disorders included in the basic NBS test namely: Congenital Hypothyroidism (CH), Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH), Galactosemia (GAL), Phenylketonuria (PKU), G6PD Deficiency (G6PDD), and Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD). Aside from these six, 22 other disorders could also be detected through the expanded newborn screening test.

For the last lecture, Ms. Nancy L. Reyes, a representative of PhilHealth-Calamba, discussed the benefits and importance of being a member of PhilHealth. 

Ms. Reyes enumerated the in-patient benefits, out-patient benefits and Z-benefit package provided by PhilHealth. The Z benefits refer to those which can be availed for serious diseases or health conditions that require expensive treatment and medicine.

Insured Healthcare. Ms. Nancy L. Reyes speaking about the benefits that can be availed by being a PhilHealth member.
Besides these lectures, free-HIV testing was also conducted through the help of medical volunteers from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine. The participants also received brochures on the topics discussed. Personal hygiene kits were also distributed as part of the campaign to promote infection prevention and health care.

The program was organized by Team Proactive Kabilin which is composed of the following VYLH-Philippines Los Baños Chapter members: Jeanne Ruth Basas (Philippine Association of Nutrition Alpha Omega Chapter/PAN-AO), Manette Perez (PAN-AO), Joshua Hernandez (GeneSoc), Jedidiah Sarmiento (UP Community Broadcasters Society) and Angelica Obrador (Rotaract Club of Los Banos).

The team conducted the fair with the support of one of its partner organizations, The UPLB Genetics Society and following project partners: the Office of the Mayor, Municipal Health Office, Barangay Mayondon, Institute of Human Genetics, NIH-UP Manila, UP Los Banos Office of Student Affairs, and Ideas Positive of Unilab Foundation.

Written by Sean Santos (UPLB GeneSoc)
Originally published in GENEWS
The Official Publication of The UPLB Genetics Society

Giving students an iron and folic acid boost: DOH, DepEd launch WIFA Program

According to the 2013 National Nutrition Survey conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST), one out of 10 females aged 13 to 19 years old suffer from anemia or the deficiency of healthy red blood cells or of hemoglobin in the blood. Female adolescents are vulnerable to anemia due to the increase in iron demand of their bodies following menstruation, rapid growth and some parasitic infections.

Considering that most adolescents are in school and do not access health services in the health center, the Department of Health (DOH) partnered with the Department of Education (DepEd) in implementing a school-based Weekly Iron-Folic acid (WIFA) Supplementation Program among female Grade 7 to 10 students throughout the country. WIFA supplementation is expected to contribute to the reduction of the participants’ absenteeism due to ill health and the eventual improvement of their school performance. It has been known that 200-500 million school days are lost due to absenteeism.

Launch of the WIFA Program in Iloilo National High School, Iloilo City (Iloilo Today)
About the WIFA Program

The WIFA program is a component of the Menstrual Health Management Project of DepED which aims to address knowledge gaps and support learners on self-care and other menstruation-related problems, including anemia.

It is also included in the DOH Micronutrient Support, and Adolescent Health Development Programs. In 2010, the DOH released a revision of the policy on micronutrient supplementation to support the achievement of the MDGs and address the micronutrient needs of other population groups. From this, iron and folic acid supplementation was identified as one of the interventions to address iron deficiency anemia and folate deficiency among women of the reproductive age, including adolescents.

During its implementation, Iron-Folic acid supplements containing 60 milligrams of iron and 400 micrograms of folic acid will be administered for 12 weeks from July to September 2017, and from January to March 2018. Intermittent supplementation, which is giving the supplements weekly and in two rounds, is based on the recommendation of the World Health Organization.

Furthermore, WIFA supplements will not be given to students who were not dewormed in the past six months. Intake of the supplement has also no known adverse side effects except for some gastric discomfort, constipation, and blackening of stool. Any side effects experienced by the participants should be reported to the classroom teacher or school nurse for proper management. According to a UNICEF India post, the iron folic acid tablets should be taken with a full stomach in order to reduce potential side effects. Side effects may also occur initially as the body adjusts to the supplement. These will eventually disappear after taking the supplements regularly for a few weeks.

Although WIFA will be held in public schools, it is hoped that students in private schools and out of school youth will also be encouraged to access the supplement in their community health centers.

An Opportunity for Volunteer Youth Leaders

The Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health (VYLH)-Philippines as one of the prime movers for the promotion of folic acid awareness in the country since its formation in 2009 considers the WIFA program as a relevant national program to the advocacy of the network. The program also contributes to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goal target of addressing the nutritional needs of adolescent girls and other priority groups (SDG 2.2). 

The network hopes that as more youth are informed about the benefits of folic acid, and experience taking the supplement through the school-based program, there will be more youth leaders who will be knowledgeable and supportive of the advocacy. Likewise, the students will also be prepared in the future as supplementation is suggested prior to pregnancy. This is important since folate deficiency is prevalent during pregnancy.

It is also hoped that local governments and schools will also be more receptive to the advocacy following the launch of the DepED-DOH national program. In Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro, a local health worker have asked the help of Volunteer Youth Leaders in supporting the WIFA particularly in promoting awareness about folic acid supplementation in order to reduce the number of potential program deferrals by influencing the public and disseminating the importance of folic acid. #

DOH launches Weekly Iron Folic Acid Program in Central Luzon. Philippine Information Agency.

Female students to get weekly iron, folic acid boost. Iloilo Today.

Nation-wide Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation (WIFS) programme to combat Anemia among Adolescent girls and boys. UNICEF India.

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). 


Birth Defects Surveillance: From Prevention to Policy Intervention

WHO defines birth defects as congenital malformations, deformations and chromosomal abnormalities. They can be structural or functional abnormalities, including metabolic disorders, which are present from birth. Birth defects can be life-threatening conditions that most often result to longterm disability.

Yearly, 7.9 million children are born with serious birth defects which translate to 6% of total births worldwide. In a 2000-2013 World Health Organization (WHO) report, out of 2.761 M deaths in children, 9.9% or roughly 276,000 were caused by congenital anomalies. It is a global problem but the severity of its impact is felt more in low and middle class countries like the Philippines where congenital anomalies have remained in the top 10 causes of deaths in a lifespan  over the last 50 years.

To address this problem, the need to establish a systematic and accurate surveillance is crucial. A comprehensive study of the causes of birth defects can pave the way to recommendations, policies and programs that will help prevent, manage, and improve the lives of children living with these congenital conditions.

Birth defects
WHO defines birth defects as congenital malformations, deformations and chromosomal abnormalities. They can be structural or functional abnormalities, including metabolic disorders, which are present from birth. 

Birth defects can be life-threatening conditions that most often result in long-term disability. This becomes a burden to individuals affected and their families as well as they cause a negative impact on health-care systems and societies. Currently, more than 7,000 different birth defects have been identified that are genetic or partially genetic in origin mostly occurring before conception (preconception), or after conception but before birth (postconception). While more than half of these defects have no established causes, some may be linked to  gene defects, chromosomal disorders, multifactorial inheritance, environmental teratogens and micronutrial deficiencies. Maternal health is also among the crucial factors. Exposure to infectious diseases, such as syphilis and rubella, can cause significant birth defects in low- and middle-income countries. Other factors that may cause birth defects are maternal illness, such as diabetes mellitus, deficiency in iodine and folic acid, exposure to medicines and recreational drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco, select environmental chemicals, and high doses of radiation.

With so much factors to consider in the causes of birth defects, a plethora of preventive programs must also be in place. In the 63rd  World Health Assembly of WHO in 2010, a series of multiplatform approaches were to be considered. Birth defects that are environmental in origin may be prevented through public health programs, such as prevention of sexually transmitted disease infections, policies in control and management of chemicals, vaccinations, and fortification of food with micronutrients. Preconception  health of women in their reproductive age must also be considered to ensure optimal physical and mental wellbeing at the onset and during early pregnancy to increase the likelihood of a normal and healthy baby. Furthermore, screening of newborn infants for congenital disorders expedites early detection. This ensures that infants will be given the proper treatment and care, making some of the birth defects manageable and preventing them from
becoming life threatening. 

Birth Defects in the Philippines
Despite the enormity of the birth defects problem, there is no centralized birth registry in the Philippines. The UP Manila National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Institute of Human Genetics,in partnership with the Department of Health (DOH), has conducted a limited hospital and community surveillance project with the following objectives: (1) to implement a surveillance program for newborns with birth defects in different settings, such as government hospitals, private hospitals, and community health units; (2) to determine the incidence of birth defects in all participating sites; (3) to determine the rate of occurrence of different types of birth defects; (4) to provide morbidity and mortality statistics to assist in national policy and program planning; (5) to identify possible risk factors for commonly encountered birth defects; and (6) to make recommendations for adoption of BDS on a nationwide scale.

A total of 82 participating health facilities  revealed the top 10 birth defects: (1) oral facial clefts; (2) multiple congenital anomalies; (3) talipes equinovarus; (4) neural tube defects; (5) limb reduction deformities; (6) Down syndrome; (7) congenital hydrocephalus; (8) imperforate anus; (9) hypospadia; and (10) hydrocele.

Birth defects registration has been difficult to implement despite being free and requiring only the cooperation of the health provider to fill up a form and submit for proper recording. Although it is ideal that the Philippines participate in the International  Clearinghouse for Birth Defects Surveillance and Research (ICBDSR), engagement is impossible until our health providers (physicians, nurses, midwives) assist in providing accurate birth defects registration reports.

One of the major milestones of the BDS is Administrative Order 2014-0035 issued by the DOH on the Implementing Guidelines on the Setting up of Newborn Screening Continuing Clinics. Anchored in this AO is the Birth Defects Surveillance Continuing Clinic (BDS CC). In the same structure and facility of Newborn Screening Continuing Clinics is BDS CC. This is an ambulatory clinic based on regional and provincial referral centers identified by DOH. The clinic will cater to patients with birth defects for diagnosis and long-term management. Currently, BDS is divided into four cluster groups; North Luzon, National Capital Region-South Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Under these clusters are 14 BDS CC. These are Ilocos Training Hospital, Cagayan Valley Medical Center, Jose Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, Philippine General Hospital, Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital, General Emilio Aguinaldo Memorial Hospital, West Visayas State University Medical Center, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center, Zamboanga City Medical Center, Northern Mindanao Medical Center, Southern Philippines Medical Center, and Cotabato Regional Medical Center. 

Dr. Maria Melanie Liberty B.Alcausin, consultant of the North Luzon BDS cluster, emphasizes the importance of data gathered from the surveillance. “The data would support the policies on folic acid supplementation and fortification and policies on better immunization of women of reproductive age,” she stated. Folate is a B-vitamin that plays a significant role in preventing birth defects, particularly of the baby’s brain and spine, which are collectively known as neural
tube defects (NTDs). Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate that occurs in fortification and supplementation. Folic acid is one of the water-soluble vitamins (B9) that occurs in food. It is not stored in the body, ergo, a continuous supply of the vitamin is needed on a daily basis. Folic acid is needed at least a month prior to pregnancy and on the first trimester. However, not only are most pregnancies unplanned, most women are also unaware of the importance of taking folic acid when they reach sexual maturity.

In a recent Science Legislative Forum on Folic Acid hosted by the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines on June 28, 2016, Dr. Marissa B. Lukban, Head of the Section of Pediatric Neurology, Departments of Pediatrics and Neurosciences at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), Manila, discussed the burden of NTDs in the Philippines. According to the data she presented, the occurrence of NTDs at the PGH is 23 per 10,000 live births. Dr. Helena Pachon, senior nutrition scientist of Food Fortification Initiative, Emory University USA, mentioned that based on estimates of NTDs in the Philippines, fortification with folic acid could prevent between 3,000 and 3,500 babies from being born with a neural tube defect per year. She also presented data from the 2008 National Nutrition Survey of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute which suggests that 40-60% of reproductive age women in the Philippines are folate deficient; a substantially larger proportion are, therefore, folate insufficient

Policy Development
As there are no existing folic acid fortification efforts in the Philippines and supplementation efforts had low coverage, there is a need to put a comprehensive policy in place not only to increase the awareness and knowledge on how folic acid can prevent NTDs but also to improve the maternal health of every Filipino mother and woman of child-bearing age. Dr. Carmencita Padilla has been working with Hon. Pia Cayetano at the House of Representatives on this comprehensive policy. On August 25, 2016, Hon. Cayetano filed HB 3341, an act establishing an integrated utilization and promotion of folic acid food fortification and supplementation. This is cosponsored by Hon. Federico Sandoval II.

Among the highlights of the proposed bill are: to ensure that every woman of reproductive age has access to food and food products containing folate and folic acid and folic acid supplements to reduce the risk of miscarriage and babies with NTDs and other birth defects; to ensure that there is adequate supply of folic acid-fortified food and food products and folic acid tablets at an affordable price; to  ensure that there is sufficient and correct information on the role of folate and folic acid for women of reproductive age and their children; to ensure the creation of a sustained interagency collaboration for the aggressive implementation and monitoring of this Act; and to foster collaborative undertakings in continuous research on folic acid food fortification and supplementation.

Youth Engagement
In response to this growing concern, a volunteer  group that started in 2009 advocated the importance of folic acid supplementation for women of reproductive age. The group, Volunteer Youth Leader for Health - Philippines (VYLH) has been implementing programs for the awareness of folic acid intake for women. “Tapping the youth for the folic acid campaign is important since the sector comprises the next generation of parents, leaders and movers of society. At present, the sector represents a significant portion of the population – around 30%. Aside from the demographics, the youth sector has the dynamism, innovativeness, and energy to influence peers. They also have a great involvement in social media which is currently seen as a cost-effective and farreaching tool for health promotion,” explained Ryan Pascual, Convenor of #FolicAcidPH and Volunteer (Volunteer Youth Leader for Health-Philippines), 2009-present.

On its seventh year, the VYLH has taken its folic acid campaign to the next level. Aside from annual on-theground programs across the country, the group launched the social media arm of its campaign hashtagged #FolicAcidPH. It was launched on several social media platforms like Thunderclap, Twitter and Facebook on July 18, 2016. In an assessment done after the campaign, the total sum of all of the campaign supporters’ friends and followers reached 556,119 for Thunderclap alone while 87.6K people have seen their tweets on Twitter; and the Facebook page created was able to reach 59,320 users. This has given the group a wider reach in its advocacy and awareness program.#

Written by January Kanindot
First Published in Health Ripples
The UP Manila Health and Lifestyle Magazine
Vol. 2 No. 1 (January-June 2016 Issue)


NNC challenges every Filipino to make healthy diet a habit

National Nutrition Council

The National Nutrition Council (NNC) celebrates Nutrition Month nationwide by enjoining Filipinos from all walks of life not only to adopt a healthy diet but emphasizes the need to make it a lifetime habit.

With the theme “Healthy diet, gawing habit – FOR LIFE!”, this year’s Nutrition Month aims to raise the public’s awareness and mobilize them towards the reduction of both under- and overnutrition and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension and diabetes in the country.

NNC stresses in its key messages that healthy diet means eating a variety of foods from different food groups in balance and in moderation. Most Filipinos have high intake of energy-dense and nutrient-poor foods which are also high in saturated fats, trans fats, refined carbohydrates or sodium. (DOST-FNRI) Yet, 7 in 10 Filipino households do not meet their dietary energy requirements needed for the demands of productivity in school, work or home. This disrupts the metabolic processes, physiological functions and well-being of an individual. With a healthy diet, daily energy and nutritional needs can be satisfied and thus, optimal health is ensured.

Healthy diet also means increased consumption of vegetables and fruits. This call is aligned to address the shifts in the dietary patterns of Filipinos which showed that consumption of vegetables and fruits has continued to decline in the last 35 years. (Source: National Nutrition Surveys of FNRI-DOST) In a global scale, low fruit and vegetable consumption is attributed to approximately 1.7 million (2.8%) of deaths and causes around 14% of gastrointestinal cancer deaths, 11% of ischaemic heart disease deaths and about 9% of stroke deaths. (Source: World Health Organization)

NNC reminds the public that the increased availability of highly processed foods and reduced access to fresh fruits and vegetables all the more make healthy diet a conscious effort. This does not mean making healthy food choices only. For those in the food industry, this entails making available healthier foods through reformulation of products to produce foods that are low in fat, sodium and sugar.

The NNC continues to gather support from different sectors and levels of government in making homes, schools and workplaces as agents in promoting healthy diet. Through the efforts of NNC’s regional offices, various activities along the Nutrition Month theme are conducted nationwide. This includes organizing meetings with our local nutrition workers, local chief executives, media, and other stakeholders, intensifying the promotion of healthy diet through different forms of media and conducting activities that will elicit participation from the public and generate appreciation and action from their part.

NNC reminds the public that actions to support the key messages of the annual nationwide campaign can be implemented the whole year and not only every July. This is anchored on the premise that good nutrition is not only a month-long endeavor but should become a daily habit. To achieve a healthy and productive populace, a commitment into making good nutrition practices a habit is an indispensable requirement.

National Nutrition Council
Republic of the Philippines
Nutrition Bldg, 2332 Chino Roces Avenue Extension
Taguig City

VYLH, GeneSoc and Calapan City LGU empower the youth thru K4Health

CALAPAN CITY, ORIENTAL MINDORO - The Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health - Philippines (VYLH-Philippines) and The UPLB Genetics Society (GeneSoc) expanded the reach of the K4Health (Kabataan for Health) Community Youth Training Program in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro last July 1-2, 2017. 

K4Health (Kabataan for Health) is a project initiated by the VYLH-Philippines and GeneSoc which promotes the mobilization of the youth towards the promotion of newborn screening, folic acid awareness, and birth defects prevention. The four “Ks” stands for “Kabataang Kabalikat ng Komunidad para sa Kalusugan,” emphasizing the role of the youth in effecting change in our community.

Following the program's launch and the implementation of the project in Nampicuan, Nueva Ecija, GeneSoc in partnership with VYLH- Philippines, the City Government of Calapan (LGU Calapan), and Calapan City Health and Sanitation Department (CHSD) conducted the second K4Health Community Youth Training Program. The main objective of the K4Health Program is the formation of a community-based volunteer youth leader organization that will promote public awareness on various health concerns supported by the network and the LGU.

For the second edition of K4Health, 30 volunteer youth leaders (VYLs) were inducted - 26 Calapan City youth leaders and four GeneSoc volunteers. The four GeneSoc volunteers were Rozel Razal, Joana Marie Cruz, Sean Timothy Gacutan and Emil Louise Santos. Also on the list is Leann Suiton who was also part of the K4Health-Nampicuan team and was inducted last year. 

Volunteerism and Leadership. These are the 26 VYLs from Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro who are now part of VYLH-Philippines (Batch Kalilintad). 

Similar to K4Health-Nampicuan, lectures on community development, youth leadership and volunteerism, local health situation and health advocacies were given by GeneSoc facilitators and invited lecturers. Discussions for the first day of training focused on the different advocacies of VYLH-Philippines while the second day focused on deepening the participants' understanding of the advocacies. 

Aside from discussing the main advocacies of VYLH-Philippines (newborn screening, folic acid, and rare disease), a lecture on adolescent health sexuality awareness for teenage pregnancy prevention was given during the training program due to the alarming rates of teenage pregnancy in the city. In 2015 and 2016, 459 and 462 cases were recorded, respectively.

Meanwhile, one of the City Health nurses raised the potential challenges in the implementation of the DOH-DepEd Weekly Iron-Folic acid (WIFA) Supplementation Program in Calapan City. One of which is the need for waiver forms before they can give the vitamin supplement to high school students. The waiver and potential deferrals, according to her, will be a challenge in obtaining 100% coverage. Nonetheless, she hopes to receive help from youth volunteers to influence and disseminate the importance of taking folic acid. 

Other activities were also facilitated such as hands-on activities, teaching demonstration and problem tree analysis which were designed to deepen and integrate the knowledge of the youth volunteers on three topics: folic acid, newborn screening, and teenage pregnancy.

Be involved. (1) Prof. Jickerson Lado giving his lecture on Participatory Training Framework and Experiential Learning Cycle (ELC) (2) VYLs preparing for their Problem Tree presentation (3) One of the VYLs presenting their output on problem tree analysis

The induction of the 30 new members to VYLH-Philippines and the election of VYLH-Philippines Calapan City Chapter officers culminated the two-day training program. The new set of volunteers were inducted as part of  VYLH Batch Kalilintad, the Maranao word for peace.

Advocacy in Action. The newly elected officers of VYLH-Calapan headed by Ms. Karizza Abacan. Also in the photo,
City Health Officer Dr. Basilisa Llanto (far left) and Dr. Ma. Teresita Bolor (far right)

As part of the K4Health Partnership Framework, VYLH-Philippines Calapan City will be under the direct supervision of City Health Officer Dr. Basilisa Llanto and Population Officer (designate) Dr. Ma. Teresita Bolor of the City Health and Sanitation Department. 

The K4Health program was sponsored by the City Health and Sanitation Department of Calapan, Rotary Club of Downtown Calapan, Rotary Club of Calapan, Oriental Mindoro Medical Society and alumni members of The UPLB Genetics Society.

The program was also supported by the Newborn Screening Center - NIH, UP Manila, Institute of Human Genetics - NIH, UP Manila, Provincial Health Office - Oriental Mindoro,  and Population Commission - MIMAROPA through the provision of resource speakers and campaign materials. 

The training program is the first K4Health and VYLH-Philippines youth camp in MIMAROPA.

The K4Health project, through GeneSoc, was recognized as one of the 20 National Finalists in the 14th Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) or TAYO Awards.

Written by Joana Cruz (Kalilintad), with modifications
First published in GENEWS
Official Publication of The UPLB Genetics Society


Proactive Kabilin: Connecting Generations Through Preconception Health

Team Proactive Kabilin . From L to R: Ms. Aster Lynn Sur, Liabel Pena, Jeanne Ruth Basas, Jedidiah Sarmiento,
Angelica Obrador, Dr. Christian Gomez (Program Manager, Ideas Positive) (Photo: Ideas Positive/Unilab Foundation)

Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health - Los Baños Chapter (VYLH-LB) as Team Proactive Kabilin, earned a finalist spot in Unilab Foundation’s 7th Ideas Positive Run last February 7 to 11, 2017 during the Boot Camp held in Ace Hotel, Mandaluyong City.

The team comprised of members from four of seven partner organizations of VYLH-LB: Maria Liabel Peña, current VYLH-LB coordinator and VYLH Committee Head of The UPLB Genetics Society, Jeanne Ruth Basas, team leader of Team Proactive Kabilin, from Philippine Association of Nutrition Alpha Omega Chapter, Jedidiah Sarmiento from The UP Community Broadcasters’ Society Inc., and Angelica Obrador from the first community partner of VYLH-LB, the Rotaract Club of Los Banos; under the mentorship of Aster Lynn Sur, RN from UP Manila and VYLH. The project was aptly entitled Kabilin Kalusugan for LB Nanays. “Kabilin” is a bisayan term translated as “legacy,” which was also the batchname of the teammates during the VYLH’s first NCR-South Luzon Cluster Youth Camp last October 2016.


2016 Year-In-Review: Sustaining our Gains and Charting New Paths

On its 7th year, Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health (VYLH)-Philippines has gained new members and reached new milestones as it continued to advance the mission of empowering the Filipino youth for health. This year, the network made major strides in volunteer training, social media utilization, and fostering exchange and partnerships.

Training new volunteers

As part of an active effort of involving more youth to the advocacy, VYLH-Philippines introduced the network to youth leaders through local orientation sessions and youth camps. These volunteer training and formation activities were spearheaded by the four VYLH-Philippines clusters as a testament to unwavering commitment of the network to its mission of expanding its membership throughout the country.

Map of VYLH-Philippines Training and Recruitment Activities for 2016

Last March 2016, VYLH North and Central Luzon held an orientation on VYLH and its advocacies which was attended by youth leaders and department heads from six universities in Pangasinan. On the other hand, a two-day advocacy and leadership orientation was organized last November by VYLH Mindanao for the officers and members of Pag-asa Youth Association of the Philippines (PYAP)-Davao City Federation.

In addition to youth orientations, youth camps remain to be the major avenue of volunteer recruitment in the network. This year, VYLH was able to organize six youth camps. Briefly, a majority of these camps were regional camps (five out of six), with the most held in the Visayas (three out of six). Regional Youth Camps were held in Western Visayas in April; Central Visayas in August; Eastern Visayas in September; and, Central Luzon and CARAGA in October. Meanwhile, a cluster youth camp was organized by VYLH-Philippines NCR-South Luzon last October and this was participated by youth leaders from NCR, CaLaBaRZon and Bicol Region.

New milestones were achieved by the volunteers in these youth camps with the first regional camp organized in Eastern Visayas, and the successful conduct of youth camps in each of the regions of the Visayas Cluster – the first Cluster to complete a regional series in the network. On the other hand, this is the first time for NCR-South Luzon to hold a cluster youth camp after only having youth orientations in the past years.

In Mindanao, CARAGA volunteer youth leaders (VYLs) remain to be leaders and innovators with the first regional congress of CARAGA VYLs and third regional youth camp for the region. The congress gathered CARAGA volunteers from various VYLH batches since 2009.


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