MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan wants barangay health workers (BHWs) included in the list of barangay officials who receive a fixed allowance, especially amid the outbreaks of measles, dengue, and polio in the country.
Pangilinan in July filed Senate Bill 261, which proposed providing a fixed rate for the allowance of the over 200,000 BHWs around the country.
Calling BHWs “front-liners” in the healthcare system, Pangilinan in a statement Saturday, September 28, said the measure would allow BHWs to enjoy the same benefits and incentives as other barangay officials. (READ: 30 years and counting: The life of a volunteer village health worker)
BHWs assist physicians, nurses, and midwives in barangay health centers. They are involved in maternal, newborn, and child healthcare; nutrition; family planning services; and sanitation, among other things.
“Health is a priority for the Filipino family, especially in these times when preventable diseases that harm babies and children are back. Many who can’t go to the hospital and doctor, especially those in remote areas, rely on the barangay health worker,” Pangilinan said.
SB 261 seeks to amend Republic Acts No. 6942 or the Increasing Insurance Benefits of Local Government Officials Act of 1990, and No. 7883 or the Barangay Health Workers Benefits and Incentives Act of 1995.
RA No. 7883 entitles BHWs to hazard and subsistence allowance, training programs, Civil Service eligibility, free legal services, and access to loan services.
But Pangilinan said that while RA No. 7883, a 24-year-old law, recognizes BHWs, it does not provide a fixed rate for their allowances, leading to the underpayment of many BHWs.
“There is still no fixed rate for their allowances. There is still no uniformity to what the country’s barangay health workers receive,” Pangilinan said.
The senator added that ensuring remuneration of BHWs is “part of the vision to provide universal healthcare access to all Filipinos,” adding that the proposed measure is consistent with the government’s duty to protect and promote the health of its citizens.
“BHWs are our front-liners for health, but they are behind in benefits and incentives. When their work conditions are okay, our health conditions will be better,” he said. – Rappler.com