Health education, empowerment programs for Gen Z, out-of-school youth

USAID Philippines Office of Health Director Michelle Lang-Alli (second from left) joins representatives of, an ed-tech platform that will provide sexual and reproductive health education for Gen Z youth. | PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF US EMBASSY

The United States government provided nearly P3.7 million ($66,500) in funding and technical assistance to support the launch of four digital platforms that help promote family planning and address teenage pregnancies in the Philippines.

Through US support, members of the startup CareGo EMR are working to disseminate relevant information on family planning, reproductive, and maternal health services through mobile phone alerts.

As part of its ReachHealth program, the United States Agency for International Development formally introduced the four platforms during the Innovation Accelerator Impact Showcase held on 21 February in Makati City. These innovators are: CareGo EMR, which developed an SMS communication system to notify the public about free and available family planning, reproductive, and maternal health services;, which developed Turn You On 2.0, a one-stop shop for comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education for Filipino Gen Z youth; FriendlyCare Foundation, which developed the e-Plano App to provide easy access to family planning methods through digital booking, education, and consultation; and, a digital baby book and online community for mothers and families seeking more information on pregnancy and postpartum family planning.

USAID Mission Director Ryan Washburn addresses more than 200 youth leaders from across the Philippines during the first YDA Summit in Davao City.

With the assistance of Villgro Philippines and the Duke University Global Health Innovation Center, the four developers received six months of intensive support that prepared their respective applications for market release. Following their formal launch, these platforms may be used by local governments and government health agencies to promote family planning resources and services for the public.

Each platform is aligned with the priorities of the Department of Health, the Commission on Population and Development, and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation to provide more reliable, affordable, and accessible family planning commodities and services.

“We are happy to see the innovation ecosystem in the Philippines starting to engage in family planning and adolescent reproductive health issues,” said USAID Philippines Office of Health Director Michelle Lang-Alli. “USAID is committed to helping countries meet the family planning and reproductive health needs of their people. “

Local leaders and youth champions from 15 cities across the Philippines come together at the YDA Summit to advance programs benefiting Filipino out-of-school youth.

For her part, Philippines DoH Assistant Secretary Dr. Beverly Ho encouraged innovators to bravely pursue and scale up their family planning solutions. “We are talking about 60 percent of 110 million Filipinos who are not be able to pay for services on their own, so we have to find ways to work on that,” she said. “This is why it is important for us to come together and build connections so that we can know who is doing what and support each other.”

Youth summit

Meanwhile, on 22 to 23 February, more than 200 youth champions from 15 cities in the Philippines participated in the first-ever National Youth Development Alliance Summit hosted by the US government in Davao City to strengthen city government programs for employing and educating out-of-school youth.

Organized by the USAID Opportunity 2.0 program, the YDA Summit provided a platform to share knowledge, best practices, and innovations to support OSY. These include programs such the Alternative Learning System of the Department of Education, online technical-vocational training from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and the Youth Entrepreneurship Program of the Department of Trade and Industry.

The YDA Summit hosted local leaders and representatives from 15 USAID partner cities: Angeles City, Pasig City, Valenzuela City, Quezon City, Legazpi City, Davao City, General Santos City, Cotabato City, Iligan City, Cagayan de Oro City, Cebu City, Iloilo City, Tagbilaran City, Zamboanga City and Isabela City.

In a recorded message during the event, Vice President and concurrent Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte praised USAID for its support to education and workforce development in the Philippines.

“Many USAID programs in the Philippines have strengthened education and workforce development systems, reached more out-of-school youth, and helped us get them ready for the transition to further education and training, immediate employment, and long-term success,” said the Vice President.

“The Philippines has an estimated four million out-of-school children and youth. To make growth truly inclusive, we must provide each person the opportunity for a better tomorrow,” USAID Mission Director Ryan Washburn said. “USAID launched the Opportunity 2.0 program in 2020 to support our Philippine partners to do just that.”

Davao City Mayor Sebastian Duterte, in a message delivered by Vice Mayor Jesus Melchor Quitain Jr., also expressed appreciation to USAID for hosting the first youth development alliance summit.

“We are honored to host youth champions from across the Philippines here at the YDA Summit in partnership with USAID and the Education Development Center. We are proud to be leading the way in services, policies, and programs for one of the most vulnerable members of our society: the out-of-school youth,” he said.

USAID helped set up YDAs in cities across the Philippines to provide opportunities for OSY, including work and business readiness training, on-the-job training, youth leadership and empowerment seminars, and entrepreneurial support. Since 2020, YDAs have been instrumental guiding 30,000 OSY to obtain better jobs, open businesses, or acquire higher level education.

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