TCI Launches in the Philippines with Cities Taking the Lead to Reduce Teen Pregnancies

Nov 19, 2020

Contributors: The TCI Philippines Team

The Challenge Initiative (TCI) officially launched its “business unusual” program in the Philippines on Nov. 19, 2020, to address rising rates of teen pregnancy. Urban youth has the privilege of greater access to information from various communication technologies compared to their counterparts in the rural areas.  Yet this access can also facilitate greater exposure and vulnerability to misinformation and risky behaviors.  This partly explains why incidence of teenage pregnancies is higher in the cities.

The initial batch of cities engaged with TCI in the Philippines – Puerto Princesa, Cagayan de Oro and Dipolog cities – expressed their commitment to reduce teenage pregnancies by establishing adolescent and youth friendly cities. TCI provides high-impact interventions to engage city governments, health providers, communities, adolescents and youth, and other stakeholders in providing adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health (AYSRH) information and services in urban communities.

Representatives from 45 cities across the country participated in the launch, as well as high-level representatives from the Department of Health and other government agencies and donors. The launch featured Daniel Zuellig, Trustee of the Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF), Ernest Garilao, ZFF’s Chairman and President, and Jose “Oying” Rimon, Director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health (Gates Institute) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Mayors from TCI’s first three cities also participated: Lucilo Bayron, Mayor of Puerto Princesa; Oscar Moreno, Mayor of Cagayan de Oro; and Darel Dexter Uy, Dipolog City’s Mayor.

TCI encourages cities to engage and protect adolescents and youth, families and communities from the adverse effects of early pregnancy. Cities are expected to establish meaningful and active engagement with adolescents and youth on issues that affect their health and well-being. TCI’s goal in the Philippines is to reduce the incidence of teenage pregnancies by improving access to modern contraceptives and developing positive health-seeking behaviors among adolescents and youth.

TCI in the Philippines is co-managed by ZFF and the Gates Institute in collaboration with the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM). Given its role in the National Program for Population and Family Planning, POPCOM will lead the provision of policy support to cities in implementing their AYSRH programs through its 17 regional offices.

Globally, TCI is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bayer AG, private and local philanthropists, bilateral agencies and local governments.

Business Unusual

“TCI’s approach is founded on the premise that solutions are more sustainable when local governments take the lead. Local leaders are excited by a model that lets cities design and lead their family planning and AYSRH programs with a clear path to scale and sustainability,” TCI’s Executive Director Kojo Lokko explained. “Given the worrying state of teen pregnancies in the Philippines, TCI believes it can help cities address the problem through the right-fitting and best practice approaches, with the appropriate partners in POPCOM and ZFF.”

“We are excited with our tie-up with ZFF and the Gates Institute, along with its potential to help and guide LGUs all over the country, in containing the alarming incidences of ‘Filipino children having children.’” POPCOM Executive Director and Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III said. “Now, more than ever, we need collective action to work with our local governments in solving this pressing issue. Through TCI, it will better equip our LGUs in addressing this challenge of teen pregnancies, which has been influencing intergenerational poverty among vulnerable families.”

“We are bringing into the partnership ZFF’s brand of leadership and governance to own, co-own and co-create a responsive health system for AYSRH,” ZFF Executive Director Austere Panadero pointed out. “As a co-investor to TCI, we leverage investments to strengthen transformational relationships with local governments as they build systems that are inclusive and adolescent friendly, and get to better health and development outcomes much faster.”

Self-selection and Commitment

Interested cities committed to address the challenge of reducing teen pregnancy are encouraged to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) to be part of the TCI. Participating cities under the initiative will be given technical assistance and guidance to TCI proven high impact approaches and will be part of the global community of practice with TCI’s’ network of 95 cities across 10 countries.

Read article featuring TCI from The Philippine Star

Watch the full recording of the virtual launch of TCI in the Philippines: