Ilocos Norte gov’t wants more benefits for village health workers

LAOAG CITY — Following the conduct of a two-week Barangay Health Workers (BHW) Congress, the Ilocos Norte government proposes several reforms to benefit the 3,707 workers covering 557 villages in the entire province.

Aside from giving medical kits containing a weighing scale, blood pressure apparatus, stethoscope, and several other first-aid supplies including nebulizer and glucometer for each BHW, Governor Imee Marcos also distributed BHW insurance cards.

The BHW insurance entitles the holder up to PHP50,000 if they or a family member gets into an accident, and PHP5,000 if one dies of natural causes.

Marcos said BHWs need to be covered by an insurance as they often have to travel through unlit roads at night to tend to their constituents.

She proposed the standardization of a quarterly stipend to be given to the workers, saying, “tulung-tulong na lang tayo, kasama ang barangay at ang probinsiya, at makapagbigay ng maayos at matiwasay na allowance para sa BHW… Huwag pahirapan ang tunay na mga ‘bannuar ti away’ (heroes of rural areas) na BHW.”

Mildred Fernando, president of the BHW in Dingras, shared that being a health worker requires commitment.

“Commitment ang number one, yung kahit may mga gagawin ka, ibibigay mo talaga yung sarili mo para makapagsilbi,” Fernando has already been serving as a BHW for 27 years.

She related stories of urgently sending out warnings to areas at risk during storm signals and having to wade or swim through floodwaters in order to reach constituents of their town, but nevertheless “we are enjoying our voluntary work in Ilocos Norte.”PNA/