Kaya Natin!, a multi-sectoral movement advocating for good governance and ethical leadership, in partnership with the Ateneo School of Government and the Office of Senator Teofisto Guingona III, established the Dakilang Barangay Health Workers Awards, an initiative that aims to recognize the passion for public service, volunteerism, leadership in the country’s barangay health workers.
For communities all over the Philippines, barangay health workers provide important services and respond to pressing healthcare challenges, such as infant and maternal mortality and infectious diseases, even in the face of constraints related to manpower and resources. Given the country’s burgeoning growth and development, these health volunteers will be playing a more crucial role in ensuring that our public health system is prepared to provide healthcare solutions that are innovative, inclusive, and responsive.
“The Dakilang Barangay Health Workers Awards is an opportunity to educate the public about the role of health workers and their contributions to the country’s public health system, and to learn more about the current problems faced by communities,” says Kaya Natin! champion Senator Teofisto Guingona III. “We also hope to educate the public about the innovative community health programs that have been developed in response to these challenges.”
“The volunteers were judged on criteria such as technical skills and knowledge, competency in community health leadership, and personal attitudes and values, which include their commitment to embodying effective, ethical, and empowering leadership,” explains Dr. Tony La Viña, Dean of the Ateneo School of Government. “One of our other requirements was to require at least five years of work experience for prospective nominees.”
Each finalist received a token and a certificate of recognition, while each awardee received a cash prize and a plaque.
The inaugural ten awardees include Dolores Grace Macasajot (Manila), Vivian Leonardo and Luisa Francisco (Valenzuela), Ma. Remedios Jogno and Juditha Lagramada (Makati), Myrna Gaite, Concepcion Balbuena, and Anecita Pablo (Mandaluyong), and Esmeralda Sarol and Alcie Atuli (Muntinlupa).
Dolores Grace Macasajot has been working as a health worker for seven years at the Bagong Barangay Health Center and Lying-In Clinic. She was named the Most Outstanding Barangay Health Worker in her area for two consecutive years, for her feeding programs for children, promotion and education of PhilHealth for her constituents, and helping the local barangay bring livelihood programs to mothers.
Before signing up to be a health worker at Punturin Health Center in Valenzuela City, Vivian Leonardo first worked in a sari-sari store. Leonardo provides primary health care for 800 households, and has been doing so for eight years. She continues to educate and promote vaccination in her barangay.
Luisa Francisco was a housewife-turned-health worker volunteering at the Karuhatan Health Center in Valenzuela City, who has been serving her barangay for seven years. Aside from her work in health, she also teaches children at the local day care center.
Ma. Remedios Jogno studied two years of pre-nursing, and put her skills to good use, volunteering for the Pembo Health Center in Makati. She has been working as a barangay health worker for 16 years, and her experience has allowed her to guide her fellow health workers, this time as president of the barangay health workers in Makati.
Juditha Lagramada was named Most Outstanding Barangay Health Worker in Makati thrice. Part of her work at the Rizal Health Center includes handling the Directly Observed Treatment Strategy for Tuberculosis, a treatment protocol for TB, in her area.
Myrna Gaite started volunteerism work in the barangay health center, serving as their voice and communicating public announcements. Upon being exposed to the day-to-day duties of the health workers, she became interested in taking on their roles, and has gone on to lead her local health workers association in Mandaluyong. She has been working as a barangay health worker for 25 years.
Concepcion Balbuena has worked as a manicurist, pedicurist, and tailor before volunteering as a barangay health worker for Highway Hills Health Center in Mandaluyong. As one of the older awardees, this 69-year-old health worker has been leading projects for the senior citizens’ association.
For 20 years, Anecita Pablo has been giving health education talks on immunization, maternal and pre-natal care, and on the use of herbal medicines, in both the health center and out on the field. In addition, she has also organized and promoted livelihood education programs.
Esmeralda Sarol routinely plunges into Muntinlupa’s “danger zones” to provide primary health care for the communities served by the Cupang Health Center. One of her initiatives is to ensure that all of the children in the area would receive immunization, and to help facilitate the immunization, she works with the local government to bring service vehicles to shuttle the children to and from their communities.
Alcie Atuli has been working as a barangay health worker for 13 years, volunteering for the Alabang Health Center in Muntinlupa. She teaches health education subjects on the field and in the health center, and has taken on the task of handling additional families, more than the average number assigned to each barangay health worker in the area.
“It’s good that our barangay health workers being recognized now, because not a lot of people even know what their job is. Despite the difficulty of the work and the minimal compensation, they still continue to do it because of their love for the community and for the country,” says Harvey Keh, Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship of the Ateneo School of Government, and one of the key movers for Kaya Natin!. “These people are heroes—heroes that really go out of their way just to make a difference in the lives of others.”