By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Deputy Speaker and Pangasinan Rep. Rose Marie “Baby” Arenas has proposed to grant benefits and incentives for barangay health workers to promote and protect their economic, social, and political rights and well-being and ensure quality health services delivery in the grassroots level.
She said the government should ensure that quality healthcare services promote social justice in all phases of national development.
“The everyday heroism of over 380,000 predominantly women Barangay Health Workers in the forefront of delivering health services must be recognized and their vital work should be properly compensated,” she said.
Arenas filed House Bill 8927 or the proposed Barangay Health Workers and Services Reform Act, citing the need for the “government to recognize the economic and social rights of community health workers to just compensation, consistent with the principle of equal pay for equal work and work of equal value.”
Under HB 8927, barangay health workers include, but not limited to, those who render primary health care (PHC) services, nutrition services, population services, and environmental health or disaster services.
It provides that there shall be one barangay health center in every barangay unit and that there shall be at least one BHW for every barangay with a population not exceeding 500.
Arenas said under her bill, the entry pay level of a BHW shall be the prevailing rate equivalent to Salary Grade One.
“All members of the community health team shall be entitled to the same incentives and benefits provided under the Magna Carta for Public Health Workers. Further, they shall be covered by the existing statutory benefits such as GSIS, Philhealth, Pag-ibig, 13th month pay, PERA., Performance Incentive Bonus, cash gift, uniform allowance, and hazard pay,” she said.
The bill also provides that the right of a BHW to self-organization shall not be abridged.
Violators of the proposed Act shall pay a fine ranging from P300,000 to P500,000 and/or imprisonment of one year to six years upon discretion of the court.
HB 8927 tasks the Department of Health- Bureau of Local Health Systems and Development (BLHD), in coordination with Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and with the participation of various health union representatives to formulate, finalize, and implement the BHW training program, assessment, and national certification program.
It also mandates the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the DoH, to allocate necessary funds for efficient and effective implementation of the proposed Act’s provision on compensation, incentives and benefits of the community health team from the national appropriations funds.
The Philhealth income and Sin Tax revenues shall be used to fund the implementation of the proposed Act.
The DOH, Civil Service Commission (CSC), TESDA, League of Municipalities and Cities, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and DBM shall provide the implementing rules and regulations of the proposed Act.