AS THE world celebrated International Youth Day on August 12, a team of students from the University of the Philippines Visayas was awarded Grand Champion of Ideas Positive Run 7 for their “Project Bakunanays” (Bakuna ng Kabataan Ugaliin Nang Anak ay di Sakitin).
The team, called Team BakUNAWA, is composed of BS Public Health students from UP Visayas in Miag-ao, Iloilo. Its members are Luis Salvador, Precious Legayada, Anna Nicole Cuachon, Bea Galupo, and Jason Acebuque, with mentor Dr. Calvin de los Reyes.
The team was named grand champion at the Ideas Positive National Youth Forum for Public Health (IPNYFPH) 2017, which was held on August 12 at the Bayanihan Center in Pasig City.
IPNYFPH 2017 is the culmination of Ideas Positive Run 7, the youth engagement program of Unilab Foundation. Ideas Positive empowers the youth to build a healthier Philippines. Since 2010, the program has engaged more than 36,000 youth, transformed 172 communities, and reached 1.5 million Filipinos.
The team's "Project Bakunanays" aimed for 100 percent compliance to School-Based Immunization (SBI) among 70 first-grade students of Ungka II Elementary School in Pavia, Iloilo, with a view to decreasing “the morbidity and mortality of school-aged children due to vaccine-preventable diseases.”
“We chose to focus on immunization because we believe that it is an investment for future generations,” said Salvador. “We must secure our future by ensuring that the children are able to get the necessary shots to keep them from diseases.”
An immersion trip to the community revealed Pavia students had significantly low compliance to school-based immunization, especially in Ungka II Elementary School. The team’s research showed that parents were wary of immunization, because of many misconceptions regarding vaccination, as well as the students' own fears.
To address these problems, they created a group of volunteers called the ImmuniTeam Core Group.
The ImmuniTeam helped facilitate the project in the school. Its members also held seminars called Wastong BakUNAWA sessions, where students, parents, and local healthcare providers learned about the booster vaccines (Measles Rubella and Tetanus-Diphtheria).
The seminars also provided an opportunity to debunk misconceptions about vaccination, and to suggest ways to make the vaccination sessions more comfortable and less daunting for the children.
At the core of the project is the construction of an ImmuniStation.
“The ImmuniStation is not just a cart that dispenses vaccines, but it also contains manuals that includes all the necessary information and materials needed to implement Project Bakunanays in a community,” said Salvador.
Afterwards, the team scheduled play sessions with the kids to alleviate the fears of vaccination. The children were educated through games, songs, and even an especially-produced story book.
The story book told the story of Baki Bakuna, who did not want to get vaccinated because of his fear of needles. When Baki Bakuna found out what diseases he might get, he eventually agreed to be vaccinated.
The team also produced pamphlets and different educational materials to increase awareness about vaccination, specifically about the advantages of booster vaccines.
After implementing the project, Team BakUNAWA achieved 100 percent compliance at Ungka II. But they didn’t stop there. They brought the project to Pal-agon Amparo Elementary School, which ranked second in vaccination refusal rates in Pavia, Iloilo. There, they also met with 100 percent approval from the parents for the incoming vaccination.
Through Project Bakunanays, the team was able to bring together students and teachers, families, and different organizations into one community that advocates for better health through school-based immunizations.
Among their partners were Barangay Ungka II, Pavia, Philippine Pediatric Society-Western Visayas Chapter, Department of Health-Western Visayas, and Department of Education-Division of Iloilo.
Salvador called on the youth to implement their powerful ideas. “Young minds are full of positive ideas. Our capacity to make a positive change is not limited by our age. Nothing beats a young person with a positive idea and the heart and perseverance to turn that idea into reality!”
Ideas Positive Run 8 will start accepting entries in September 2017.
For more information about Ideas Positive, contact Regina Layug-Rosero at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.unilabfoundation.org. Follow Ideas Positive on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. (PR)