DOH, NYC, UNICEF Philippines, Y-PEER Pilipinas launch #KaBayanihan Youth Challenge to promote youth participation in COVID-19 vaccination

Joint Press Release | 1 December 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH), in partnership with UNICEF Philippines, National Youth Commission (NYC), and Youth Peer Education Network (Y-PEER) Pilipinas,  launched #KaBayanihan Youth Challenge for COVID-19 on November 30, 2022 in Crowne Plaza Hotel, Ortigas Center, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines.

The Youth Challenge engages youth-led and youth-serving organizations to work with local governments and support mobilization of young people, partners, and communities to complement DOH’s settings-based strategies for the PinasLakas campaign of bringing vaccination services closer to the people. The youth organizations will kick off activities to support  DOH’s Bakunahang Bayan: Special COVID-19 Vaccination Days Part II, a three-day nationwide vaccination drive from December 5 to 7, 2022, that aims to increase booster uptake and vaccination coverage among children aged 5 to 11.

“The pandemic continues to impress upon us the significance of collective action and active participation, especially in our efforts to transition to the new normal and attain Universal Health Care. The impact of what we do now will be felt not just by us, but by future generations to come. Hence, there are no better people to engage than the very ones who stand to feel the impact of today’s collective action,” OIC Health Secretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire said.

“On behalf of the Department of Health, I thank all of our youth volunteers who heeded the call to help the government bring vaccination closer to our people. With your continued support and relentless commitment, I am confident that we will successfully ensure better health outcomes for all,” the DOH OIC added.

#KaBayanihan Youth Challenge as an opportunity to promote vaccination

#KaBayanihan is a portmanteau of kabataan (youth) and bayanihan (a unique term referring to the Filipino culture of voluntarily helping others and communities). Through #Kabayanihan Youth Challenge, young people will keep the true spirit of bayanihan alive by helping build safer, healthier communities through vaccination. Engaging  10 youth organizations with presence in different parts of the country, the Youth Challenge will support innovative, local actions and community-driven solutions on vaccine promotion and COVID-19 prevention.

Partnering with local governments, the youth organizations will implement communication and community engagement interventions to reach priority and vulnerable vaccine-eligible populations, such as senior citizens, booster-eligible populations, school-age children and adolescents, and indigenous communities in the provinces of Cavite, Albay, Western Samar, Basilan, Negros Oriental, Davao, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, South Cotabato, and Antique. Each youth organization was awarded PHP 200,000.00 as a seed-grant to support the design and implementation of their innovative ideas.

“Participation is a fundamental right of young people that must be upheld at all times, especially during emergencies and crises. The #Kabayanihan Youth Challenge aims to provide a broader platform for youth participation in promoting COVID-19 vaccination and in the overall recovery from the pandemic,” said UNICEF Deputy Representative Behzad Noubary. “In our support to DOH, we have so far engaged 114 youth organizations across the country that supported their communities in the vaccination campaign.”

The #KaBayanihan Youth Challenge also aims to help build the capacities of young people in supporting other immunization and health programs. The knowledge, skills, and good practices that young people will build from the Youth Challenge can be applied to other health programs, such as routine immunization, adolescent sexual reproductive health, and mental health and psychosocial support.

#Vaxxinadora in action

Social media personalities and drag queens Precious Paula Nicole, the winner  of Drag Race Philippines, Queen Lady Morgana, and Queen Turing have also expressed their full support to the government’s vaccination program. Joining the launch and transforming as #Vaxxinadoras, they committed to be vaccine champions in their communities and help in encouraging more Filipinos to complete their COVID-19 vaccines. They will also join the community-based vaccine promotion activities that will be implemented by the youth organizations.

The event was participated in by Dr. Beverly Lorraine C. Ho, Department of Health’s OIC-Undersecretary for Public Health Services and Dr. Alfonso Miguel R. Regala, OIC-Chief of Behavior Change and Social Mobilization Division of DOH-Health Promotion Bureau; Leah T. Villalon, Executive Director of the National Youth Commission; Behzad Noubary, Deputy Representative of UNICEF Philippines, and; Ralph Ivan Samson, President and CEO of Y-PEER Pilipinas.