Comprehensive, other benefits for BHWs pushed

November 11, 2022 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 205 views

IN a move to further promote the welfare and growth of barangay health workers (BHWs), Valenzuela City 1st District Rep. Rex Gatchalian on Friday reiterated his strong commitment on the passage of a measure that seeks to provide BHWs with a comprehensive set of compensation and benefits for their invaluable services as frontliners in the delivery of healthcare at the grassroots level.

“It is time to recognize the vital role that our BHWs play in the delivery of health services in the communities, especially in the rural areas of the country. Our collective efforts to ensure the passage of the Magna Carta for Barangay Health Workers will be our expression of gratitude for their diligence and sacrifices,” said the chair of the House committee on local government, who is also a staunch advocate of quality healthcare.

His nine-year stint as Valenzuela City Mayor has allowed Gatchalian to be on the ground and personally see, among others, the extreme sacrifices made by BHWs as community educators in preventing simple diseases, monitors and data gatherers for policy-makers, and primary healthcare providers.

During the height of the COVID-19 lockdown, the then City Mayor oversaw the establishment of localized mass testing and isolation facilities; the distribution of food packs and relief goods; and later on, city-wide vaccination drives, which further highlighted the important role of BHWs and the need to fully support them.

And now as a returning legislator, Gatchalian said he wanted to ensure the swift passage of the Magna Carta for Barangay Health Workers by adding his full support to that of his colleagues who have primarily authored the proposed measure to give BHWs the necessary support while promoting their welfare.

A substitute bill on the Magna Carta for Barangay Health Workers, which is a consolidation of 49 measures, was approved Thursday by Gatchalian’s Committee on Local Government.

Once enacted into law, BHWs shall be entitled to incentives and benefits that include hazard allowance, subsistence allowance, one-time retirement cash incentive, health benefits, insurance coverage, sick leaves, and access to training, education and career enrichment programs, among others.

The amount necessary for the implementation of this measure shall be charged against the National Tax Allotment (NTA) of the local government units (LGUs), other local funds and the special health fund under the Universal Health Care Act (RA 11223).

A similar act providing a Magna Carta for Barangay Health Workers has been approved by the House of Representatives during the 18th Congress, but failed to pass in the Senate for “lack of material time.”

With the present measure now on its way to the plenary, Gatchalian expressed optimism on its eventual enactment into law this 19th Congress, citing the noble efforts of the many authors who have resolutely pushed for its passage.

“We would like to thank the many authors of this measure for their passion and insights in drafting this important measure. We are quite confident of its swift passage at the House, as many of our colleagues, including this representation, share their beliefs on the virtues of the Magna Carta for Barangay Health Workers,” he said.

Gatchalian also cited the efforts of Bataan 3rd District Rep. Maria Angela Garcia, who headed the technical working group (TWG) that consolidated the various measures, as well as Barangay Health Wellness (BHW) Partylist Rep. Angela Natasha Co who is also among the primary authors.

Lastly, he also took the time to thank BHWs for their crucial role in making health services accessible in every community.

“Maraming salamat sa inyong pagsisikap at sakripisyo. Katuwang namin kayo sa pagharap sa mga pagsubok na dala ng pandemya. Ang proseso ng pagbuo ng bansa ay hindi maisasakatuparan kung wala ang mga katulad ninyo na umaagapay sa pamahalaan,” Gatchalian said.