IN 2009 nine young professionals got together to form the Alliance of Young Nurse Leaders and Advocates International Inc., (AYNLA) an organization which aims to advance the rights and welfare of nurses and other health professionals.
Three years later, their number rose in thousands and the group became a major player in pushing for reforms in health policies. Aynla is the first youth-led and youth-directed professional nursing organization in the Asia Pacific. The alliance has over 2,500 registered members, both internationally and locally, and an online network of more than 12,800.
Assertive in its pursuit of growth and empowering in its methods, the group is backed by a roster of high-profile consultants, such as former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral, former PRC Board of Nursing Chairman Eufemia Octaviano and former PRC Commissioner and now DOH Nursing Consultant Ruth Padilla.
Health reforms and the fire of advocacy
FOR a three-year-old organization, Aynla is making its mark in public-policy direction involving issues it advocates. To be able to keep working on reforms, however, Aynla understands that positive collaboration with public and private sectors of society is integral.
Aynla is the only nursing organization in the Philippines that is publicly supportive of having a national comprehensive reproductive-health law emphasizing the role of nurses as health educators, patient counselors and consultants.
Aynla joined the technical panel of experts who reviewed and finalized the draft of the reproductive-health bill. Aynla is the current elected chairman of the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network’s Youth Committee and is also chairing the International Youth Steering Committee of the 7th Asia-Pacific Conference on Sexual & Reproductive Health and Rights, which the Philippines will be hosting in January 2014.
The group was also a participant in the Wealth for Health Summit, a one-day forum which discussed issues pertaining to financing health care, held recently. The forum aimed to create a continuing platform where various stakeholders can discuss critical health-care financing issues and identify specific areas of cooperation.
Partnerships and programs
Aynla collaborates with many partners to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals and the universal health-care agenda. Currently, the alliance is in partnership with the Department of Health (DOH) in conducting a series of community town-hall assemblies known as “Usapang KP,” where the DOH can directly consult the people with regard to their needs and problems concerning health-care delivery in their community through Aynla’s nurses.
Inputs of these will be used for policy development and recommendation to the office of the DOH secretary for the proper implementation of the universal health care program in the Philippines.
Aynla also works with the DOH and Probe Media Foundation for the implementation of a primary health-care roving bus called “Lakbay Buhay Kalusugan” touring 10 key areas in the country doing health-promotion activities.
The alliance also partners with the DOH in the implementation of the national monitoring and evaluation activities for the RNHEALS project.»next page, please
Aynla also works with PhilHealth, ensuring the effectiveness of the implementation of its program PhilHealth Cares. Just recently, the alliance was invited by the PhilHealth president to be part of the multispecialty group called PhilHealth Watch that will help monitor PhilHealth’s programs.
Aynla also works with the International Labor Organization on health and migration issues.
New media for social change in health
Aynla’s operation is done mainly online. For the alliance, Facebook and Twitter are not just personal social pages: they are platforms for activism and advocacy. The Nurses’ Black Out Campaign of 2011 is proof that Aynla’s campaigns integrating social media is a force to be reckoned with.
Exploitation of nurses was at its peak in 2011, with many institutions taking advantage of these new health professionals’ need for experience. To bring awareness and to create clamor, members of the alliance blacked out their profile pictures on Facebook for 11 days. Hundreds soon participated. On the 11th day of the campaign, the Senate ordered a probe of the issue.
The group continues to work using social media as one of its main tools in educating, informing and advocating for health and nursing issues. Recently, Aynla won an international award from the International Council of Nurses and Sanofi International. Aynla bested hundreds of entries from all over the world and was named one of the 10 recipients of the Helping Hand Category of the 2011 Care Challenge for their entry on using an online radio and podcast as means to inform people about health and discuss nurse’s issues.