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.

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Monday, December 09, 2013

Philippines wow International Communities for ICBD 2013

Written by Stanley Gajete
VYLH-UP Los Baños Alumnus (Batch I3)

Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health - Philippines volunteers conquered the ICBD stage during the opening ceremonies.

Albeit the fact that Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hurtled the central part of the Philippines, particularly the Visayan Region, the international community visited the country to attend 6th International Conference on Birth Defects and Disabilities in the developing world, Shangri-La Mactan, Cebu, November 10-13.

Filipinos warmly welcomed foreign participants despite the cold waters dotted brought by the super typhoon especially in Tacloban City, and the rest of Samar and strong winds throttled, which created huge woes among fellow bisayans, since it made its first landfall on November 8.

The opening ceremony of 6th ICBD at Marquee Ballroom,
Shangrila-Mactan, Cebu, Philippines, November 10-13, 2013
attended by international health experts to communicate
best practices on birth defects and medical genetics
(Stanley Gajete)
This year’s conference theme was “Embedding Birth Defects in the Continuum of Care,” attended by at most 80 guests from 50 different countries. Across continents, experts from the medical field proudly laid their national costumes as part of the opening ceremony to represent their respective countries.

Dr. Carmencita Padilla messaged the fellows that despite the effects of the super typhoon Yolanda to swept areas, moving forward is an essential tool to replenish the wounds brought by the disaster. Dr. Padilla is this year’s overall ICBD 2013 chair, and the current director of the Newborn Screening Reference Center of the National Institutes of Health, UP-Manila.

With the sound of cultural-centric music reverberated inside the hall, Dr. Padilla, along with Mr. Christopher Howson, the Vice-President for Global Programs of March of Dimes Foundation, and co-chair of ICBD 2014 gonged the instrument, to formally open the said convention. The VYLH-Philippines members performed on stage with colorful linen folk dance performance showing majestic Filipino culture that brought smiles to all due to its stunning routines.

The evening program burned with first medical speech from Joe Leigh Simpson of USA as he explained the importance of Genomics as a tool for medical genetics and birth defects.

Speaks for the change

The second day of the said international convention focused on the special topics and projects proposed and/or implemented related to genomes, genetics, and health issues especially on infant birth defects, its opportunities and challenges.

Senator Pia Cayetano served as one of the main guest speakers for the morning program, as she explained the importance of rare disease awareness, and infant-health advocacy, remembering as one of the main advocates of women’s rights and reproductive health law in the country.

Dr. Carmencita Padilla of the Philippines also shared some of the best practices in promoting good health especially in detecting birth defects in the country, alongside with the efforts being done by the Department of Health and the University of the-Philippines Manila.

Birth defects surveillance in the Asia Pacific was the main highlight of the morning session, as different countries in the Asian continent laid down the efforts being practiced by health agencies in their respective countries.

Posters presenting some of the great research findings in the context of social and scientific issues in genetics and biological presence on research development were also presented in the exhibit.

Parallel sessions

 Following days were used on parallel sessions due to overwhelming research trends of different science experts around the world, specifically in birth defects surveillance and registration, cause and prevention of birth defects, prenatal and maternal care, role of parents in planning and delivering services, and networks and issues, challenges, and strategies of different countries towards better health, as programs claimed.

VYLH-Philippines former President Ryan John Pascual was also acknowledged because of the presentation of the efforts of youth to communicate advocacies in different communities around the country, and its successful exercise to continuously campaign its advocacies for different sectors.

VYLH-Philippines is known for its three main advocacies; folic acid campaign, newborn screening, and rare diseases awareness which create huge impacts in the country because of the efforts of the members, following its advocacies of serving the nation towards better health care, with its Filipino youth members.

Endless smile happened due to Fellowship night after serious talks of the whole day, November 12, where Filipino fiesta was the core of the event.

The message

ICBD 2014 colored the message not only to explain the practices of the medical field in communicating the relevance of infant health on all sectors but also to encourage and embrace the youth to make successive efforts to communicate effectively.

The event ended with technical and scientific ideas in the pack, gained from days of serious talks and plenary sessions on engaging into more trends to save million of babies with defects, following the target of UN Millennium Development Goals, and sharing the best practices of different countries.

Vietnam was announced as the next host of ICBD.

VYLH-Philippines volunteers together with the network's secretariat and
VYLH co-founding adviser, Dr. Merlyn Mendioro (IBS-UPLB).
Stanley Gajete is a BS Development Communication (major in Community Broadcasting) graduate from the University of the Philippines Los Baños. He is also a proud alumnus of The UP Community Broadcaster's Society. At present, he currently works at the News and Current Affairs Division of ABS-CBN.


A Letter of Appreciation

Written by Louigie Boy "Jeb" Saludar
PYAP Davao, K4

Jeb Saludar
There’s much I have to say about my experiences to the Third National Leadership Congress of Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health Philippines, but first THANK YOU.

Thank you to Dr. Conchita (Tita Conch) Abarquez for inviting me to be a part of the 3rd Congress. Thank you to the entire Newborn Screening Center – Mindanao for believing in my capacity to do volunteerism in our advocacy. The sheer logistics of getting us all from one place to another, and with all the materials we needed such as the brochures, posters and others including moral and spiritual supports. Thank you to my co-delegates in Mindanao; Shane, Ram, Aple,  Sassy, Khen, Jash, Kuya Anthon, Zaldy, Kat, Mark and Robin who were willing to get in a plane or car and travel great distances to hear what I have to say and see how I work  with rare orphan disorders in the community. I really felt their warm welcome and was able to communicate and relate with one another as we share the same goals in achieving our advocacy. They were not only open-minded people, but were also able to resist as necessary with their incisive questions in order to improve our efforts. An added bonus was the one of a kind experience having been in the country’s famous hotels and dined in first class restaurants especially the Shangri-La Hotel and Spa. It was an amazing experience to be with you all. 

As the congress went by, I really felt the presence of the almighty God, amidst the ranging surge brought by super typhoon Yolanda and damaging the island’s natural beauty. He provided us the safer place to stay upon and brought us warmth and comfort through our Tito’s and Tita’s. After what had happened, I really believed that our prayer is more powerful than any other tool, its water proof and cannot be overpowered. 

VYLH-Mindanao volunteers together with Dr. Conchita Abarques

Finally, on the last day some of the VYLH delegates went home. Thanks to the March of Dimes and Institute of Human Genetics for choosing me as one of the Philippine Delegates for the International Conference of Birth Defects and Disability in the Developing World on the same venue. The conference theme was Embedding Birth Defects in the Continuum of Care on November 10-13, 2013.  I had a wonderful experience meeting foreign delegates from other countries and the Global Networks of Newborn Screening Centers, attending workshops with wholly calibrated speakers. Of course, I have had met different medical professionals including the infamous father of Birth Defect Surveillance, Prof. Pierpaolo Mastroiacovo. I was also able to befriend with Dr. Sely Akbar from Indonesia, who have been closest to me for the entire conference. 

I felt a lot of heart and overwhelming compassion in the said event; And so, in behalf of the City Government of Davao and the Office of the Department Head II of City Social Services and Development Office, Thank you so much for the loaded experience and surely we will continue to advocate “Kabataang Dabawenyo, Kabataang Pinoy!”. Maraming Salamat Po!

Jeb Saludar is currently employed as a Technical Staff at the City Social Services and Development Office of the City Government of Davao. He is also one of the Regional Lead Conveners of the 10th National Youth Parliament and the current Secretary-General of PAG-ASA Youth Association of the Philippines (PYAP) in Davao City. Jeb became affiliated to the network during the Mindanao Island-wide Youth Camp held in 2010.


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