Friday, November 25, 2016

VYLH-Philippines, UNILAB Foundation hold iStorya for NCR youth

Written by Ryan John Pascual

MANILA – Last October 15, 2016, UNILAB Foundation together with Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health (VYLH)-Philippines hosted the National Capital Region-leg of ISTORYA: Stories of Youth in Action at the National Institutes of Health Conference Room, UP Manila. The event open to youth age 18-30 years old was participated by students and representatives of organizations from UP Manila and Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM). Representatives of various College-Y Clubs also attended the event as part of the YMCA-Manila delegation.

iStorya-NCR Parctipants sport the "Istorya Pose" together with the organizing team from
VYLH-Philippines and Ideas Positive. (Photo: Ideas Positive/UNILAB Foundation)
As envisioned by the UNILAB Foundation, iStorya is a platform and youth-led conversation where Filipino youth leaders can come together and exchange innovative ideas on how to solve different public health issue in their community. 

The said activity also aims to increase participation to Ideas Positive, a nationwide youth program of the same foundation that enables youth leaders to implement their ideas in their selected community. In the contest, teams with the best ideas will undergo mentoring at the Ideas Positive Boot Camp and receive up to 100,000 pesos seed money for their projects. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Rare disease advocacy takes center stage at 2016 NBS Convention

Written by Ryan John Pascual

PSOD President Cynthia Magdaraog and
her son, rare disease patient-advocate
Juan Benedicto "Dickoy".
Photo: H&L Philippines
PASAY CITY -  Last October 24-25, the Newborn Screening Society of the Philippines (NSSP) and the Newborn Screening Reference Center (NSRC-NIH, UPM) gathered 1800 professionals, practitioners, guests, and newborn screening advocates for the 14th National Newborn Screening (NBS) Convention at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City. The convention was even made more special with the celebration of the first two decades of newborn screening in the Philippines as reflected on its theme “Celebrating 20 years of Newborn Screening towards Overall Screening and Management”.

During the convention, local and international speakers shared implementation strategies, developments and recent technologies in newborn screening. Among the plenary speakers was Philippine Society for Orphan Disorders (PSOD) President Mrs. Cynthia Magdaraog who encouraged everyone in attendance not only to advocate for newborn screening but also for rare diseases.

At present, three out of the six conditions in the 6-test newborn screening panel fit to the current accepted definition of a rare disease in the Philippines - a condition with a prevalence of 1 in 20,000 or lower. These include Galactosemia, Phenylketonuria and Maple Syrup Urine Disease. With the recent introduction of expanded newborn screening, it is now possible to detect more than 20 additional rare disorders, as well as provide timely and appropriate treatment for these conditions.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

14th National Newborn Screening Convention: Celebrating 20 Years of Newborn Screening

Written by Zyra Nikka Indap

PASAY CITY- It was a cloudy afternoon but it didn’t hinder to unite more than 1,800 health professionals, advocates and guests from different regions of the country to gather and celebrate the first two decades of Newborn Screening (NBS) in the Philippines. 

This year’s NBS convention with the theme, “Celebrating 20 Years of Newborn Screening towards Overall Screening and Management”, was held on October 25 and 26 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Pasay City. The event annually organized by the Newborn Screening Society of the Philippines Inc. (NSSPI) and Newborn Screening Reference Center (NSRC)-National Institute of Health (NIH), University of the Philippines – Manila aims to update stakeholders through talks by invited local and international experts and unite newborn screening advocates.

Day One (October 25)

The President of NSSPI, Dr. Ephraim Neal Orteza cordially welcomed the delegates. Followed by special messages delivered by Dr. Eva Maria Cutiongco de la Paz, Vice-Chancellor for Research of UP Manila and Executive Director of National Institutes of Health and Department of Social Welfare and Development Undersecretary Florita Villar, on behalf of Secretary Judy Taguiwalo. Usec. Villar emphasized health as one of the rights of the children that needs to be protected. Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, Director of Disease Prevention and Control Bureau of the Department of Health (DOH), previewed DOH’s comprehensive range of programs for newborns through his keynote address on behalf on Department of Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial. 



The first plenary session was led by Dr. Carmencita Padilla, Chancellor of UP Manila and pillar of the implementation of NBS in the country. She vividly discussed the challenges and successes in the past 20 years and presented a preview into the next 20 years of national program. Dr. Padilla also highlighted the milestones of NBS implementation including the developments in neighboring Asian countries.

“I can proudly say that this is a successful program because of volunteerism, whether resulting from professional feeling of national responsibility or a simple desire to do good” said Dr. Padilla as she acknowledged the contribution of health workers and advocates. She also encouraged everyone to advocate for the promotion of Expanded Newborn Screening (ENBS). The launch of ENBS last December 2014 has allowed the testing of 22 additional disorders aside from the basic panel of six disorders namely Congenital Hypothyroidism (CH), Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH), Phenylketonuria (PKU), G6PD Deficiency (G6PDD), Galactosemia, and Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD).

Friday, November 18, 2016

VYLH reps exchange best practices with Colombian Youth Leaders

Written by Joan Barredo (K4, Zamboanga City) 

VYLH-Philippines and the Colombian youth leaders joined by Colombia Joven Adviser Maria Francisca Cepeda,
Ugnayan ng Pahinungod UP Manila Advocacy Program Coordinator Davis Tan and Institute of Human Genetics-
NIH, UP Manila Director Dr. Mary Ann Chiong.


Representatives of Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health (VYLH)- Philippines met and shared various youth advocacy activities and best practices of the network with youth leaders from Colombia last October 24, 2016 at the Chancellor's Board Room, Philippine General Hospital - University of the Philippines - Manila.

The Colombian youth delegation all form part of the top winners recognized at the Fourth National Youth Volunteering Award. The awardees were selected from 190 nominees across Colombia and were chosen by a high-level committee composed of representatives from local, international, public and civil society organizations. 

Members of the Colombian Deelgation. From L to R:
Maritza Mera, Valentina Posada, Diana Montoya and
Jose Fabian Gonzalez
The national recognition came with an exposure trip to the Philippines aimed on facilitating the exchange of experiences between young people of both countries. The mission is part of the South-South Cooperation Initiative of “Strengthening Youth Organizations” between Colombia and the Philippines. 

The Colombian delegation include Diana Paola Montoya of the Association of Scouts, Jose Fabian Gonzalez of Fundacion Juvenil Laguna Verde, Valentina Cardona Posada of Institution Educativa Eduardo Santos, and Maritza Fernanda Mera of Microsoft Student Partner – University of Cauca. According to the head of the delegation,  Ms. Maria Francisca Cepeda, "they come from different groups in Colombia and they were all recognized based from the remarkable and life-changing activities that they do for their communities." Cepeda is also the advisor of the Directorate of the Colombian National Youth System “Colombia Joven”.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Redefining Gene-by-Environment Interaction

Insights of a “Gene” on the Implementation of K4Health

by Rochelle Sarmiento (Kabilin, NCR-SL)

Almost always in every Genetics-related lecture I have so far tried to comprehend, and, seemingly, fortunate to have understood, my professors would emphasize that the very traits being expressed by any organism are a product of the interplay of various genetic and environmental factors. In several instances, they would tell— one hand holding the microphone, a leg stancing forward, and eyes looking towards the sea of fascinated and uninterested students alike— that as an individual ages, the environment he is predisposed to would hugely play a role on what makes him basically him.

Such notion is a widely accepted and acknowledged pillar of the concepts in Genetics. And when conceptually applied to matters of prime and social relevance, it would also pose an equally worth noting idea: that our perspectives on certain issues in the society may be influenced by the surroundings we find ourselves in and the people we have the opportunity to interact with.

The Program

Take as an example the conduct of the K4Health Community Youth Training Program. True to the meaning of K4, Kabataang Kabalikat ng Komunidad para sa Kalusugan, the primary aim of the said activity is to spark active participation among the youth towards sustainable improvement of the health of the people.

Having made its pilot and second implementations at the Municipality of Nampicuan in Nueva Ecija last June 7 to 9 and August 27 to 28, respectively, the program has been able to produce 27 volunteer youth leaders (VYLs) who are trained to be on the forefront of raising awareness on the importance of folic acid supplementation and newborn screening in their community.

Barangay Service Point Ofiicers (BSPO), GeneSoc facilitators, and youth volunteers of Nampicuan assemble for a photo opportunity after the special portion of the training program intended for BSPOs (Photo: GeneSoc)