MANILA – Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial on Tuesday announced the launch of the Manual of Operations on Adolescent Health and Development Program to help manage the numerous challenges confronting adolescents in the country.

The manual, which was launched in Iloilo City, is a guide on implementing the National Health Policy and Strategic Framework on Adolescent Health and Development Program at the grassroots level in frontline facilities of the Department of Health (DOH).

Ubial noted that adolescence, from 10 to19 years, is a period marked by rapid physical, hormonal, neurological and psychosocial changes that make it a time of learning and adventure.

In recent years, however, contemporary issues such as early pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and AIDS, substance use disorders, violence, and mental illness have “threatened to disrupt our adolescents’ journey towards becoming healthy and productive citizens of this country”, she said in a statement.

According to 2015 data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the leading cause of death among adolescent males was road injury, accounting for more than 1.2 million deaths.

On the other hand, lower respiratory infection was the top cause of death among younger adolescent females, and maternal conditions among older adolescent females.

To address these concerns, Ubial said the DOH, with the support of the United Nations Population Fund Philippines, enhanced its guidelines and developed the National Health Policy and Strategic Framework on Adolescent Health and Development Program.

With adolescent health at its core, the framework has three main strategies -- health education and health promotion; life skills building; and provision of prevention and case management medical services.

Ubial said the manual offers a strategically planned program with clear, specific objectives to assist program managers, coordinators, and implementers on how to efficiently and effectively allocate resources for adolescent health.

“This manual also contains monitoring and evaluating measures to help track how the program is proceeding or progressing, and aid in decision-making to ensure our health workers are providing quality and up-to-date adolescent health care," she added.

Furthermore, the health chief said the DOH will partner with National Youth Commission chair Aiza Seguerra in establishing and implementing programs that would ensure the youth’s universal access to programs and services created for them.

“While the health sector does its task in empowering our young people, we must recognize that we can only make a significant difference in their lives if we have the support and we work with everyone in our community, especially with parents, in collaboration with educators, the Church, and the government," she said.

“Only when we synchronize all our efforts will we be able to create a significant impact in the lives, the health of our adolescents,” said Ubial.

The DOH launched the manual in collaboration with WHO Philippines. (DOH PR)