DOH, DILG chiefs sign rules shielding BHWS from removal by barangay chairpersons

Around 10,000 barangay health workers (BHWs) gather at the Iloilo Sports Complex in Iloilo City on August 24, 2023 for the Iloilo Provincial BHW Congress. (Rjay Zuriaga Castor/file photo)

Barangay health workers nationwide should not worry anymore about their security of tenure now that the Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Interior & Local Government have entered into a joint memorandum meant to “ensure uninterrupted delivery of primary care services,” according to Rep. Angelica Natasha Co of the Barangay Health & Wellness (BHW) Party-list.

The congresswoman shared with news media the electronic copy of the memorandum Interior  Secretary Benhur Abalos and Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa signed last August 24.

“BHW Party-list has been pushing for this JMC since 2021, long before Secretary Herbosa was appointed. The first letters to DOH and DILG about this were sent way back in 2021. There were many details to iron out, and finally, the JMC was signed last August 24. More than two years of hard work by the BHW, DOH, and DILG went into this document consisting of 8 pages,” Rep. Co pointed out.

“This JMC is the protection of BHWs against removal by barangay chairpersons who will be elected in October. While waiting for the Magna Carta to become law, this JMC will be able to protect BHWs from politically-motivated and unjust removal from their posts,” she stressed.

“The JMC 001-2023 enforces the BHW Incentives and Benefits Act of 1995 (RA 7883) and the Universal Health Care Act (RA 11223). It has general and specific guidelines, transitory provisions, and defines the roles of the local health boards, local government units, and national agencies—all of which were crafted to make sure BHWs are protected against unjust removal from their posts,” she also said.

Co added that local officials who violate the JMC could face administrative sanctions, including investigation and show cause orders.

“Though the JMC gives three years for signing up, the sooner the BHWs are registered with the local health boards, the better for BHWs, so those who are not yet registered with the LHBs should do so and make sure they are listed. This signup directive reiterates previous orders. It is not new, but the JMC puts in more protective provisions for BHWs,” the congresswoman said.