About VYLH-Philippines

Organizational Profile    

The Filipino youth, ages 15 to 30, comprise more than 40% of the country’s population. Being the country’s future leaders and parents, the youth sector is a viable and dynamic target population for a health advocacy on the prevention of birth defects and preterm births. 

In 2009, Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health – Philippines (VYLH-Philippines) was formally organized through the collaborative effort of the Institute of Human Genetics of the National Institutes of Health-University of the Philippines Manila, the Department of Health (Republic of the Philippines) and The UPLB Genetics Society, a student organization of the University of the Philippines Los Baños. 

VYLH-Philippines is a network of pro-active, service oriented, empowering, and visionary leaders equipped with knowledge and skills in mobilizing the youth towards a healthy Philippines. 
VYLH-Philippines is a network of pro-active, service-oriented, empowering and visionary leaders equipped with knowledge and skills in mobilizing the youth for health. It is composed of youth leaders from different community- and university-based youth organizations throughout the Philippines. The formation of VYLH-Philippines is part of an international effort to establish the March of Dimes – Global Network for Maternal and Infant Health (MOD-GNMIH) participated by youth counterparts in China and Lebanon linked by the common interest of volunteerism and public service to improve birth outcomes worldwide through advocacy. 

The network was organized with the aim of creating a network of youth leaders who will champion in increasing public awareness on existing health programs, and on the significance of a healthy lifestyle at an early age. Currently, the network is in the forefront of the campaign directed to increase the public’s awareness on the significance of folic acid supplementation in the prevention of birth defects, and on the importance of newborn screening in saving babies from death and mental retardation. The network also advocates for the passage of the Rare Disease Act, an act addressing the needs of patients with rare and orphan disorders. 

Since 2009, VYLH-Philippines has been organizing health promotion and advocacy activities such as community and school lectures, mothers’ classes in hospitals and health centers, symposia, and exhibits. The network also continuously engages in developing print and accessible online resource materials; designing communication tools and strategies; and establishing partnerships with local agencies and professional organizations. The network has also integrated in its calendar of activities some national and international observances related to the advocacy. 

At present, the network’s volunteer force is a diverse mixture of youth leaders coming from different interests and professions.
VYLH-Philippines has also conducted local, provincial, regional, and island-wide youth camps in order to sustain the membership of the network, and engage youth leaders coming from unrepresented areas of the network’s volunteer pool. A national leadership congress of volunteers is also regularly held in order to strengthen the network, recommission volunteers, provide updates about program developments and future plans, as well as discuss relevant and timely health issues. At present, the network’s volunteer force is a diverse mixture of youth leaders coming from different interests and professions.

In the span of four years, VYLH-Philippines has trained more than 300 volunteer youth leaders coming from more than 200 youth organizations nationwide and has conducted year-round advocacy projects, three national volunteer congresses, three island-wide youth camps, and one national camp. Recently, VYLH-Philippines was invited as the sole Filipino Youth Organization to participate in the 6th International Conference on Birth Defects and Disabilities in the Developing World. The network’s programs were also recognized by the Voice of the Youth Network-Philippines as one of the Outstanding Health Awareness Project of 2013. 

Taking value to the importance of the youth in nation building, VYLH-Philippines had, and will continue to mold, equip, and engage Filipino youth leaders in the hope of promoting a healthier nation.

History of VYLH-Philippines

Initial Preparations (2008-2009)

June 23, 2008. The UPLB Genetics Society was invited to attend the preliminary meeting for the National Birth Defects Registry Project and Folic Acid Awareness Campaign at Hotel Kimberly-Manila. Both projects were spearheaded by the Institute of Human Genetics of the National Institutes of Health, UP Manila. GeneSoc became the lead student organization of the campaign. As a response to this meeting, the Executive Committee of The UPLB Genetics Society created the Folic Acid Campaign Committee, an ad hoc committee which will coordinate all efforts related to the advocacy.

[Related Link: The UPLB Genetics Society Folic Acid Campaign Committee]

August - December 2008. GeneSoc together with technical partners from the Institute of Human Genetics, Ms. Jennifer Chiu and Ms. Aster Lyn Sur, RN, started to develop the program proposal and youth questionnaire. The group was under the supervision of then director of IHG-NIH, Dr. Carmencita Padilla, and Dr. Merlyn Mendioro, the senior adviser of The UPLB Genetics Society.

January 6, 2009. A meeting which formally introduced the project to the administration of UP Los Baños was held at the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Instruction, Dr. Rita Laude. After the meeting, an endorsement by the Chancellor Dr. Luis Rey Velasco was processed. The endorsement signified the understanding and support of the UPLB administration to the campaign. It also allowed the conduct of advocacy campaign activities within the campus.

January 2009. The Folic Acid Campaign was formally launched as an activity of The UPLB Genetics during the 4th offering of the annual Genetics Camp, an event for High school students and faculty. The Camp which for the first time covered a Luzon-wide attendance served as an avenue for a special symposium on the importance of folic acid supplementation on the prevention of birth defects. The lecture was presented by Dr. Carmencita Padilla. Assessment of the participants awareness about the topic was done through the questionnaire formulated by the group. A free tablet of a multivitamin supplement with the recommended folic acid content was also given to the participants in order to gain the complete folic acid experience.

February 2009. The UPLB Genetics Society sent invitations to UPLB Student Organizations regarding an orientation-workshop in forming a network of youth leaders in UPLB. The organizations that responded positively became the CORE members of VYLH-UPLB, namely The UPLB Microbiological Society, UP Oikos and the UP Society of Human Settlements Planners (UP HSPSoc).

March 2009. Dr. Merlyn Mendioro, the senior adviser of the UPLB Genetics Society and UPLB Faculty Adviser of the VYLH, gave a lecture on folic acid and its importance in the prevenetion of birth defects to the General Education (GE) class on nutrition (NASCI 6: Food, Nutrition and a Health Life) through the help of Dr. Wilma Hurtada (Professor, Institute of Human Nutition and Food of the College of Human Ecology; NASCI 6 Coordinator). The lecture was given to three large classes. Each large class is composed of at least 100 students. Lectures were also given to BIO 30 (Genetics Course) and NASCI 4 (The Living Planet) students. Both classes were duly handled by the UPLB Adviser, Dr. Mendioro.

July 17-19 2009. Members of the VYLH-Core group (VYLH-UP Los Baños) became the pioneer facilitators of the Institution and Planning Workshop of the Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health (First National Youth Camp) at Dacha Hotel, Tagaytay City.

This two-night, three-day event was a partnership of UPLB student organizations, the Department of Health and the Institute of Human Genetics, NIH-UP Manila. The members of the Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health – Los Baños and faculty members of the Institute of Biological Sciences, UPLB acted as participant-facilitators of the event. The event was attended by university- and community-based organizations invited by IHG-NIH. The objectives of the event were:

1. To create a network of volunteer youth leaders and youth organizations in universities and schools in major cities and communities; and

2. To promote awareness on the role of folic acid on the prevention of birth defects specifically neural tube defects among the volunteer youth leaders.

Our First Two Years (2009-2011)

The VYLH Philippines was formally organized last July 17-19, 2009 during the National Youth Camp (First National Youth Camp: Institution and Planning Workshop of VYLH Philippines) in Tagaytay Dacha Hotel,Tagaytay City through the collaborative effort of the Institute of Human Genetics of the National Institute of Health-University of the Philippines, Manila, Department of Health and The UPLB Genetics Society, a student organization of University of the Philippines Los Baños.

The National Youth Camp marked the launch of massive information drive in schools and communities represented by the attendees. The pioneer batch of leaders conducted a series of advocacy and promotional activities in their respective schools and communities. In some schools or universities, the network expanded in other organizations. Majority of community based youth organizations became partners of the rural and city health offices of their respective communities. They were also mobilized in the advocacy and promotional work of the health center.

Inspired by the result of the ground-breaking effort of the pioneering leaders, a series of Island-wide youth camps were conducted last July 2010. The island-wide youth camps aimed to orient a new set of leaders about the VYLH and its health advocacies in order to increase the membership of the VYLH network in other schools/universities and other communities from unrepresented areas from the pioneer group.

The theme for the recently concluded island-wide camps was “VYLH Philippines – K4: Kabataan Kabalikat ng Kalusugan para sa Kinabukasan”. The theme reiterated the unique role of VYLH as partners of the Department of Health and the Institutes of Human Genetics, NIH in pursuing activities towards the improving quality life of the public. The series of camps were conducted and facilitated primarily by the pioneering leaders of the first VYLH camp. The activity served as a venue wherein pioneering leaders were able to develop further their leadership and facilitating skills. The camps were conducted in collaboration and support of IHG-NIH, Newborn Screening Centers (Visayas and Mindanao), Center for Health Development - DOH Region 7, and National Center for Disease Prevention and Control (NCDPC) – Child Health Division.


The VYLH-Philippines Emblem

  • The seeds (innermost portion) represent the role of the youth in health advocacy and promotion, and the significance of empowering the youth towards a healthy nation.
  • The eight (8) individuals represent the four (4) clusters: NCR, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao; and the four (4) pioneer collaborating institutions:
    • Department of Health;
    • Institute of Human Genetics, National Institutes of Health - UP Manila;
    • Newborn Screening Reference Center (NSRC); and
    • The UPLB Genetics Society, a student organization
  • The act of holding each other signifies the collective and continuous effort of the network and its partners towards achieving the goals and objectives of the network.
  • The bodies radiating from the center shows that the organization is rooted to its role to society and its principles.
  • The four colors namely yellow, orange, yellow orange, and red orange represent the four principles embodying VYLH-Philippines namely leadership, commitment, advocacy and volunteerism.
  • The choice of the said colors signify the burning spirit of volunteerism and the radiating energy of the youth.
The VYLH-Philippines emblem was designed by Mr. Zando Escultura.