Strengthen barangay health workers - Angara

Sen. Edgardo Angara, the longest-serving senator today, is spearheading a move to strengthen the 200,000 barangay health workers (BHWs) so they could be more effective in delivering health services.

He said that the BHWs, whom he described as "frontliners" in the delivery of health services, could be an effective instrument in minimizing the incidence of tuberculosis or TB.

"TB is ranked sixth among the killer-diseases in the country today," Angara noted.

He said that the prevention or early detection of TB should start right in the barangay. He proposed that the BHWs be given compensation in recognition of their valuable services in enhancing community health.

"I will also amend the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers to cover the BHWs," Angara added.

Angara is the main author of the magna carta, denominated as Republic Act 7305.

He said that another incentive is to provide all BHW volunteers and their dependents health insurance. He is also author of RA 9241 that institutionalized the National Health Insurance Program (Philhealth).

Angara noted, however, that the delivery of health services at the local level has not been receiving enough support since their devolution to local government units under the Local Government Code.

"This is setting back efforts to combat diseases right in the barangays," he said.

He proposes the creation of a fund earmarked for the use of BHWs to solve this problem He explained that the earmarking would prohibit the use of the funds for other purposes.