A measure establishing the Magna Carta of Barangay Health Workers (BHWs) seeking to provide them financial and health benefits, among others, has been filed in the House of Representatives.
Representatives Paolo Duterte (Davao City), Eric Yap (Benguet), Edvic Yap, Jocelyn Tulfo and Jeffrey Soriano of ACT-CIS party-list and Ralph Tulfo (Quezon City) made the proposal under House Bill 450 which grants the BHWs at least P3,000 monthly honorarium on top of the following allowances:
- hazard allowance in an amount to be determined by the local health board of the local government unit (LGU) concerned but should be worth P1,000 at the minimum;
- subsistence allowance based on an amount computed in accordance with prevailing circumstances as determined by the LGU concerned but should not be less than P100 per day and;
- transportation allowance worth at least P1,000
Likewise, the measure provides for a one-time retirement P10,000 cash incentive fund for accredited BHWs who satisfactorily served for an uninterrupted period of 15 years, which cost will be borne by the municipality or city concerned. The provincial government, for its part, may provide assistance.
"While doctors and nurses receive most of the public recognition for their life-saving roles during the pandemic, BHWs have remained almost unacknowledged for their sacrifices. It is about time that we recognize the incomparable service of our BHWs by providing them compensation and benefits," Duterte said in a statement.
"With cases of dengue and COVID-19 continuing to increase, not to mention the growing concern over the monkeypox virus, barangay health workers have continuously been at the frontlines in our fight to keep our communities safe from diseases," he added.
In addition, the bill grants BHWs a 20% discount on all items enumerated under the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, provided that the privileges will not be claimed if the BHW is eligible for a higher discount that may be granted by the commercial establishment or other existing laws.
The measure also provides that all accredited BHWs are entitled to an annual cash gift of not less than the minimum monthly honorarium that they receive.
The cash gift will be given every December and will come from the general fund of the barangay or from such other funds appropriated by the national government for this purpose.
A BHW wishing to be accredited for the availment of these benefits will have to accomplish the following:
- render basic community health care services continuously and satisfactorily for six months immediately preceding the date of the filing of application for registration,
- complete the basic orientation and training for BHWs as prescribed by the Department of Health (DOH) and conducted by an accredited government agency or DOH-recognized academic institution or non-government organization
The Magna Carta for BHWs also mandates the DOH, in coordination with other government agencies, to provide continuing education, training and career enrichment programs for BHWs.
Accredited BHWs will be entitled to free medical care under the bill in the event of a confinement in any public hospital or health institution, on top of financial assistance not exceeding P5,000 for expenses incurred during times of extreme emergency where there is no nearby public hospital available.
"Apart from granting due recognition to the incomparable services rendered by the BHWs, this proposed measure also seeks to encourage more healthcare workers to render their service in their own country, which would positively affect the health care programs of our government. In view of the foregoing, the approval of this bill is earnestly sought," the lawmakers added in their explanatory note on the measure. — Llanesca T. Panti/RSJ, GMA News