Meet the finalists for 2019 MovePH Ambassador for science and public health

Rappler.com
Who's your pick for 2019 MovePH Ambassador for science and public health? Public voting for the finalists will be open until January 10, 2020.

MANILA, Philippines – Faced with polarizing issues and disinformation, several Filipinos have gone above and beyond to cut through the noise, heed the call of their community, and answer with collective action.

This year, Rappler’s civic engagement arm will be bringing back the MovePH Awards to celebrate individuals, organizations, and initiatives that are making a difference.

With the theme “Inspiring movements with impact,” this year’s awards will recognize MovePH Ambassadors who are pushing for change in their field – not just for themselves but also for others.

One ambassador will be chosen from each of the 5 categories of the 2019 MovePH Awards. Taking the lead in pushing for awareness and accessibility to services, among those being recognized is the MovePH Ambassador for science and public health. 

After reviewing more than 70 nominations, we have selected 3 finalists for this year’s MovePH Ambassador for science and public health. 

Along with the judges’ scores, part of the criteria for this year’s 2019 MovePH Ambassadors is the community vote, comprising 30% of the overall score. 

Now we want to know your top choices, as we open the public voting for the finalists until January 10, 2020.

MovePH awardees will be recognized in an awarding ceremony in February 2020.

Meet the Filipinos who inspire courage in their community and seek to move the country forward.


Wendel Marcelo
Medical Officer V, Carles Rural Health Unit

The advocacy of Dr. Marcelo is part and parcel of addressing the huge problem of malnutrition in the country. As part of the sustainable development goals and the Philippine development goal to address malnutrition, Dr. Marcelo works with different barangays to improve the nutritional status in the whole municipality, in turn contributing to the overall alleviation of malnutrition in the country.

Among the communities that has benefitted from Dr. Marcelo’s work is the municipality of Carles, Iloilo– one of the highest prevalence of malnutrition in the province.

As an advocate of nutrition, his work goes toward ensuring the nutrition program is being prioritized and invested in. Mobilization of the different stakeholders and decision-makers from the municipal level down to the barangay level is being done to ensure that nutrition program and activities are included in the plan and being implemented.

The centerpiece of his advocacy on nutrition is the pioneering establishment of community-based management of acute malnutrition to especially address children with severe acute malnutrition.

Majority of children with acute malnutrition can be found in the barangays of Gigantes Island, which is the farthest group of islands from the mainland Carles. Since an outpatient therapeutic care center has been established there, the four barangays with a combined population of nearly 15,000 have an easier access to these nutrition services.

With the establishment of community-based management of acute malnutrition, children with acute malnutrition in the geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas are being reached. 

Dr. Marcelo also conducts outreach service to help undernourished children in hard-to-reach island barangays so that therapeutic treatment can be initiated. In partnership with the other sectors, Dr. Marcelo advocated for the provision of training on gardening and provision of seeds and tools for households with undernourished children.

To be able to reach bigger impact, Dr. Marcelo needs additional external funding to be able to establish a separate nutrition office with a designated staff to work with and implement his nutrition programs and activities. With the limited financial resources he can mobilize for the entire municipality, an additional financing can be a multiplier effect to be able to reach a bigger number of beneficiaries.


Project LAAN

With the tagline “Fighting poverty through health,” Project LAAN hopes to ensure that all Filipinos can actively exercise their right to health, especially with poverty being a barrier to life-saving healthcare.

Project LAAN envisions the fulfilment of universal health care where every Filipino, especially the poor and vulnerable, has the capacity to make informed and appropriate health decisions. It hopes to improve health outcomes in communities by empowering the community members. It also prepares different health modules and supplementary materials, and are currently working on a community health profile and map for disaster risk reduction. 

Since 2014, Project LAAN has been focusing on health literacy in its main communities in Galvaville, Laguna and Calawis, Antipolo. It’s also conducting health modules about topics relevant to the community.

By focusing on health education and literacy, it hopes to prevent the number of Filipinos who are further driven into poverty and help them utilize their Philhealth. It also hopes to implement health interventions that may be used as a guide or basis for health research and policy-making. 

Aside from community initiatives, Project LAAN promotes the public health advocacy within the Ateneo community through different online and on-site campaigns, discourse talks, forums, and fundraisers that aim to spark discussion and educate people on relevant health issues and the current public health system in the Philippines. 

As a student-based organization, it becomes challenging to raise funds given the expenses from their weekly visits to their Calawis, Antipolo community. Project LAAN president Maxine Salita hopes to get more financial assistance and promotional help to share their advocacy and expand their audience.


Youth for Mental Health Coalition, Inc.

Speak Out, Reach Out (Sprout) is a 4-phase initiative of the Youth for Mental Health Coalition Inc. (Y4MH) that aims to coordinate mental health awareness, prevention, management, and services to schools, communities, and the workplace through interventions in policy-making and implementation, consultative discussions with stakeholders, public education, and creation of sustainable localized community-based mental health programs.

Through the cause, Y4MH ensures mental well-being is understood in communities, schools, and the workplace. To date, it has partnered up with over 200 organizations and institutions nationwide in pursuing mental health awareness, education, and management within systems in the community, school, and workplace. 

According to Y4MH, over 200,000 beneficiaries from all sectors have been directly reached by the SPROUT initiative. Efforts in policy-making with the Department of Health, Philippine Council on Mental Health, and all concerned national agencies are and will be catering to the mental health concerns of 109 million Filipinos residing in the country. Further efforts are being pursued for migrant Filipinos through a partnership with different Philippine embassies and discussions with the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Tailor-fit programs to ensure a healthy school setting and stress management are implemented in different schools after brief consultative discussions with students and administrators; community and evidence-based interventions catering to family involvement and care for mental health service users are being implemented in Manila, Quezon City, Paranaque, Marawi, Nueva Vizcaya, General Santos, Bacolod, Mandaluyong, and all the other regional chapters; and, wellness program modules are being executed in workplace partners.

Y4MCH’s national secretary general Ray Alyannah Lagasca said that financial stability is one key difficulty of the organization. To reach bigger impact, Lagasca hopes Y4MH will be able to get more monetary, service, and logistical partnerships to help carry out its initiatives. – Rappler.com