An initial batch of cities across the Philippines are now enlisted with The Challenge Initiative (TCI), a “business unusual” approach enabling high-impact interventions to engage local governments, health providers, communities, adolescents and youth, as well as other stakeholders in providing adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health (AYSRH) information and services in urban communities.

An initial batch of cities across the Philippines are now enlisted with The Challenge Initiative (TCI), a “business unusual” approach enabling high-impact interventions to engage local governments, health providers, communities, adolescents and youth, as well as other stakeholders in providing adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health (AYSRH) information and services in urban communities.

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 affecting their health and their well-being. 

The goal of TCI is to reduce incidences of teenage pregnancies. This entails improvement in access to modern contraceptives and develop positive health-seeking behaviors among adolescents and youth. Already, the cities of Puerto Princesa, Cagayan de Oro and Dipolog have committed to reduce teenage pregnancies as they work their way toward becoming adolescent and youth friendly cities.

Given its role in the National Program for Population and Family Planning, the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) will lead the provision of policy support to cities in implementing their AYSRH programs through its 17 regional offices.

TCI in the Philippines is co-managed by Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health (Gates Institute), in collaboration with POPCOM.

“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 enables cities design and lead their family planning and AYSRH programs with a clear path to scale and sustainability,” TCI 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 right-fitting and best practice approaches, with appropriate partners in POPCOM and ZFF.”

“We are excited with our tie-up with ZFF and the Gates Institute—along with their 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, MD, MPH said. “Now, more than ever, we need collective action to work with our local governments in solving this pressing issue. TCI 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.”

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

Queries about TCI may be sent to tci.ph@zuelligfoundation.org, through Raymond Mazo (rjlmazo@zuelligfoundation.org), Jenny Macaraan (jrmacaraan@zuelligfoundation.org), or Lyra Gay Borja (lyra.borja@popcom.gov.ph)