Barangay Health Workers and Services Reform Act of 2016

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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”

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EXPLANATORY NOTE

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.


1 Section 3 of Republic Act 7883.

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.