An Act to improve and to promote quality delivery of health services in barangays, enacting the “barangay health workers and services reform Act of 2016”
Primary health care, being one of the top health campaigns of our
government, relies heavily on barangay initiatives and community participation. In
order to address the basic health necessities given the limited resources, our local
government units count on Barangay Health Workers, also known as Barangay
Health Volunteers, who are accredited to function as such by the local health board
in accordance with the guidelines promulgated by the Department of Health 1 .
With the ever increasing growth rate of our population, our Barangay Health
Workers are truly indispensable in the delivery and promotion of the basic healthcare
services in local communities. They are always in the frontline of providing maternal,
newborn and child health care in the neighborhood. They also act as health
educators and community organizersin order to effectively promote the health
awareness campaigns by the government down to the smallest unit of our society –
the family. Undeniably, the nature of their work is full-time.
Despite the indispensability our Barangay Health Workers, they are treated
sadly as mere “volunteers” under Republic Act (RA) 7883 entitled, “The Barangay
Health Workers’ Benefits and Incentives Act of 1995”. Each volunteer receives about
five weeks of training. Barangay Health Workers live in the communities they serve,
and act as change agents in their communities. They provide information, education
and motivation services for primary health care, maternal and child health, child
rights, family planning and nutrition. They may administer immunizations and regular
weighing of children. They often assist midwives in providing birthing services. On
average, each volunteer is expected to work with around 20 families in their
community. However the scarcity of trained individuals has narrowed down the
number of volunteers, especially in someremote areas, where now one or two
volunteers service an entire barangay. 2
The cause of the ongoing trend on the dearth of Barangay Health Workers
catering to local communities is easily traced on the compensation these volunteers
receive vis-à- vis the services they provide. Local Government Units (LGUs) vary in
the rates and benefits they provide to these community workers. The allowance
ranging from Five Hundred Pesos (P500.00) to Six Thousand Pesos (P6,000.00) is
typically their only source of living, sans fixed income, benefits and incentives. This
rate is hardly enough to make both ends meet for their families. It is high time that
Barangay Health Workers receivemore support in exchange for all the services they
selflessly provide in their local communities. The irregular and measly amount
Barangay Health Workers get does not give them the dignity and recognition that
they deserve for the important work that they do.
Furthermore, it is also an uncontroverted fact that Barangay Health Workers
are at the mercy of local government officials, due to the absence of security of
tenure.They can be terminated capriciously at the instance of perceived adverse
political leanings. Thus, the present system allows them to be politicized. We must
put an end to this unscrupulous practice.
This bill therefore aims to revise the existing law in order to recognize and
improve on the realities presently at work: Barangay Health Workers and Barangay
Health Services are key towards the attainment of exclusive economic growth
through sustainable human development.
This legislation is originally authored by Ang NARS Party-List headed by
Representative Leah S. Paquiz with a counterpart policy measure in the Senate filed
by Senator Grace Poe.
Thus, the passage of this bill is earnestly sought.
2 Wikipedia, www.wikipedia.com, citing the following studies of the Red Cross Philippines, 8 November 2011;
Department of Health: Basic Support for Institutionalizing Child Survival Project Newborn Health in Philippines, 2011
LUIS RAYMUND F. VILLAFUERTE, JR.