As the newly elected barangay officials assume their roles, Senator Win Gatchalian is now pushing for a magna carta for barangay health care workers (BHWs) to ensure the health and well-being of all communities.
He filed Senate Bill No. 1840 which recognizes the role of BHWs as community organizers, educators, and primary health care service providers, among others. The measure seeks to provide the much-needed improvement of the legally mandated BHW benefits and incentives to be more attuned with the changing needs of barangay health frontliners.
“Ang mga barangay health workers ang isa sa mga pinakamalapit sa ating mga kababayan sa paghahatid ng mga mahahalagang serbisyong pangkalusugan. Ngunit napag-iwanan na ng panahon ang mga benepisyong ibinibigay natin sa kanila, kaya naman panahon na upang ibigay sa kanila ang nararapat na mga benepisyo batay sa ginagampanan nilang mga responsibilidad,” said Gatchalian.
He pointed out that there’s a disparity between BHWs’ actual role, functions, and responsibilities and the benefits, compensation, and protection accorded to them under Republic Act No. 7883 or the Barangay Health Workers’ Benefits and Incentives Act of 1995.
The senator proposed that BHWs’ incentives and benefits include the following: a monthly honoraria of not less than P3,000, subject to adjustment based on the prevailing market value; hazard allowance to be determined by the local health board of the local government unit concerned, which shall be not less than P1,000 per month; transportation allowance of not less than P1,000 a month; and a one-time gratuity cash incentive of not less than P10,000 for at least 15 years of service.
The lawmaker also proposed discount privileges, health benefits, insurance coverage, sick and maternity leaves, free legal services, preferential access to loan, training, education, and career enrichment programs, among others.
The bill also prohibits discrimination against BHWs and provides that no accredited BHW shall be removed except for a valid cause determined by the local health board. Local health boards are also mandated to establish a grievance mechanism, which will process complaints of BHWs against alleged acts of discrimination and unjust removal from service.