Strengthening K4Health’s advocacy: VYLH, GeneSoc and Calapan City LGU empower the youth for a healthier PH

by: Joana Cruz (Cyclosome), Ryan Pascual (Ed) (Regulon)

The Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health - Philippines (VYLH-Philippines) and The UPLB Genetics Society (GeneSoc) expanded the reach of the K4Health (Kabataan for Health) project by establishing the second community-based youth organization in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro, July 1-2.

K4Health (Kabataan for Health) is a project initiated by the VYLH-Philippines and GeneSoc which promotes the mobilization of the youth towards larger newborn screening coverage, folic acid promotion, 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 implementation of the project in Nampicuan, Nueva Ecija, five GeneSoc members in partnership with VYLH- Philippines, Calapan City-LGU, and Calapan City Health and Sanitation Department (CHSD) conducted the second K4Health Community Youth Training Program.

For the second edition of K4Health, 30 volunteer youth leaders (VYLs) were inducted, 26 Calapan City Youth and four GeneSoc volunteers. The four GeneSoc volunteers were Rozel B. Razal (Aptamers), Joana Marie C. Cruz (Cyclosome), Sean Timothy B. Gacutan (Helitron) and Emil Louise M. Santos (Aptamers). Also on the list is Leann F. Suiton (Cyclosome) 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-Ph (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 (newborn screening, folic acid, and rare disease), lectures on teenage pregnancy were given during the training program due to the alarming rates (459 and 462 recorded cases in 2015 and 2016, respectively) of teenage pregnancy in the municipality.

Meanwhile, one of the City Health nurses raised the potential challenges in the implementation of folic acid in relation with 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 folic acid supplement to high school students. These requirements, 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 would deepen and integrate the knowledge of the youth volunteers on 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-Calapan Chapter officers culminated the two-day training program.

VYLH-Calapan Chapter are under 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 program was sponsored by the Newborn Screening Center - NIH, UP Manila, Institute of Human Genetics - NIH, UP Manila, Provincial Health Office - Oriental Mindoro, Rotary Club of Downtown Calapan, Rotary Club of Calapan, Oriental Mindoro Medical Society and Population Commission - MIMAROPA.

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.

Click the link to more about the K4Health Project.