• A Filipino doctor has been named as one of the “new generation of family planning leaders”
  • This award was given by the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute
  • Dr. Marvin Masalunga is the only Southeast Asian among 40 youth leaders from all over the world given the award

A Filipino doctor, who once served as a doctor to the barrio, was named as one of the “new generation of family planning leaders” by the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute.

Dr. Marvin Masalunga officially became the first Southeast Asian to be part of the 120 Under 40 youth leaders championing reproductive health around the world.

Masalunga, who is currently the deputy municipal health officer in the town of Coron in Palawan, will be joining fellow youth leaders in a series of talks in the United States through the help of the Gates Institute and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The 40 winners come from all over the world and from different fields, such as journalism, civil society, medicine, and research.

“It’s a validation of what I, and our group of rural health workers in Palawan, do for the people. Aside from that, it speaks that I am probably doing something right in my service,” Masalunga told GMA News.

The 27-year-old doctor was nominated by the non-government organization Forum for Family Planning and Development for his work with the group in improving rural health by spreading reproductive rights education, which has helped lessen instances of maternal mortality and the rate of teenage pregnancy in different areas in Palawan.

“In my involvement with the rural health community, I brought along with me three causes that are close to my heart, the disabled people, reproductive health, and mental health. These are the people who are at the laylayan [the outskirts of society]. And they are the ones who need medical attention, the most,” he explains.

Masalunga says he hopes to eventually specialize in pathology and to establish an adolescent forum where he can continue his advocacy of educating the youth about reproductive health.