In line with its goal of accomplishing its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte seeks to further increase the deployment of its Barangay Health Workers (BHWs).
BHWs are government-supported workers who focus on managing health-related issues on the barangays of theirdesignation. One BHW corresponds to 20 households in one barangay with household number varied depending on population.
“If a barangay has more population, then of course, more people will be deployed to that certain area. In remote areas, only one or two workers serve an entire barangay,” said Dr. Artemio Gambalan, Officer-in-Charge of the Provincial Health Office (PHO).
Currently, 3,571 BHWs are on duty in the province. Gambalan also stressed the need to increase the number of these health workers.
“Being a BHW is not a position, as it is volunteerism in nature. And this is one of the reasons why we have a difficult time in getting volunteers,” said Rosalynda B. Roter, President of the Federated Barangay Health Workers of Laoag City.
Those who wish to apply as BHWs are not required to be college degree holders but must be physically and mentally fit; a medical background is not needed, but applicants are to undergo and pass a basic training program for them to be equipped with necessary skills as BHWs.
“Since being a BHW is all about volunteerism, the government cannot terminate a health worker currently in duty. However, BHWs can resign from their posts if they wish to,” Roter added.
Duties of BHWs include providing information, education and motivation services for primary health care, maternal and child health, child rights, family planning and nutrition. They can also perform immunization on children in their barangays and assist midwives in birthing services.
“Our BHWs are in the frontline of the government in catering basic health services to the people. This is the reason why we need more of them,” added Gambalan, referring to the importance of BHWs in the local community.
BHWs receive honorariums and incentives from respective barangays and freebies from the provincial government such as uniforms, t-shirts, and umbrellas.
Roter emphasized that a BHW must be fully committed if he or she wishes to serve the community.
“I am fulfilled in my calling as a BHW, because service to the people also means serving our country, and above all, God,” said Roter.
“It can be a little difficult as there’s a lot of work to be done. But I find it enjoyable, and I’m happy with it,” said Agnes Atud, another BHW serving in Laoag City supporting Roter as she related her experiences in working as a BHW.
A BHW Provincial Congress was held last April 13 for the BHWs of District 1 and April 20 for District 2. The event was facilitated by PHO.
The hiring of BHWs is also in line with Governor Imee Marcos’ aim to address and promote awareness in health-related matters in the province such as maternal care and child nutrition.—Ephraim Jovid Bulusan, CMO-Intern