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UP, DOH target youth as advocates for health
Elmalayne Dulnuan and Darleene Lapid
Health, 4-13-2014

Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health (VYLH) encourages the youth of Baguio City to become health advocates.

VYLH former president Ryan Pascual presented an overview of the activities and core advocacies of the group to the students of the University of the Philippines-Baguio, Saint Louis University, University of Baguio, University of the Cordilleras, and other schools in the city.

Pascual said members of the organization are tasked to design and promote a community-based program focused on folic acid campaign and newborn screening (NBS), and orphan disorders.

Pascual said the VYHL is focusing on three advocacies because of the lack of attention given to these topics.

“As a focus group, nakakapag-specialize tayo sa advocacies. We are doing this to fulfill the need to highlight these concerns dahil hindi masyadong ina-address itong mga topics na ito,” he said.

Citing the Department of Health and the Institute of Human Genetics National Institute of Health UP Manila, the VYLH said 7.8 million Filipino children have birth defects due to the lack of folic acid.

Folic acid is a vitamin needed to build healthy cells in the body. This vitamin is also needed by pregnant women to avoid facial clefts and other defects.

Newborn screening, according to a report from NBS Reference Center National Institutes of Health, incorporates the tests done to newborns to find out if the baby has a congenital metabolic disorder that may lead to mental retardation or even death.

Orphan disorders, according to Pascual, is a collective term for life-long genetic disorders that affect only a small population.

VYLH NBS Program Manager Virginia Narciso said children with these genetic disorders are usually abandoned and neglected by their parents.

“Groups and organizations are needed to help educate and accommodate their needs. We are the voice and the eyes of these children,” Narciso said.

VYLH aims to create a network of young leaders in the country to advocate health issues of mothers and their children.

VYLH was created in July 2009 by the Institutes of Human Genetics together with the National Center for Disease Prevention and Control of the DOH and Genetics Society of the Philippines.

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