DOH retools village health workers vs. common illnesses

MANILAThe Department of Health (DOH) in Calabarzon has retooled barangay health workers (BHWs) to improve their skills and immediately identify common diseases, like tuberculosis (TB) and dengue, plaguing their respective communities.

During the launching of the first BHW Convention in Pasay City on Thursday, DOH Calabarzon Infectious Cluster Head Maria Elena Castillo-Gonzales said BHWs are trained to help in identifying potential TB victims in the community.

"Meron pong missing TB cases at kelangan natin silang mahanap, magamot at mapagaling sa tulong ninyo. Ang mga kalalakihan, naninigarilyo, ibang karamdaman at may kahirapan sa buhay ang kadalasan tinatamaan ng TB (There are missing TB cases and we need to find them, treat and heal them with your help. Men, smokers, people with other diseases and the marginalized are usually hit by TB)," she said.

Gonzales added the BHWs could teach the basic facts about TB, in collecting the sputum of suspected TB patients and in referring them for treatment.

In his speech at the event, DOH Undersecretary Roger Tong-an stressed the importance of the service delivered by BHWs in line with the implementation of the department's FOURmula One Plus for Health program. It is the new strategic framework in attaining the health goals of the government.

"BHWs have a crucial role to play in the realization of our targets and achievement of goals in the context of healthcare delivery system. They must be knowledgeable in the implementation of basic health services to communities," Tong-an said.

He urged the BHWs to commit in providing health service with compassion to every community member needing their assistance in preparation for the passage and implementation of universal health care bill.

Since they have direct connection to the people, the BHWs were taught the symptoms of diseases, which plague most communities - tuberculosis (TB), dengue and leprosy.

Meanwhile, DOH Laguna Development Management Officer IV Rene Fernando discussed how BHWs will function as disease reporting advocates (DRAs) since they live together with the community members.

"Bilang DRAs kayo ang unang lalapitan ng ating mga kababayan para makamit nila ang mga serbisyo ng DOH lalo na sa Dengvaxia issue. Kayo ang mga tagahanap, taga-record, taga-monitor at taga-refer hindi lamang sa Dengvaxia kundi para din sa ibang uri ng sakit (As DRAs you will be approached by our fellowmen so they can receive the service provided by DOH especially related to Dengvaxia issue. You will be the ones to look, record, monitor and refer not only those affected by Dengvaxia but also other diseases)," he said.

Evanita Villamor Sta. Ana, a BHW from Morong, Rizal, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that the convention helped them to become updated in the health services system and new programs related to the government's health goals.

"May idea nako tungkol sa TB kasi madalas kami maka-attend sa usapan tungkol dun pero ang bago ngayon para sa akin ay iyong pag-handle sa Dengvaxia. Sana mas marami pang ganitong convention gaya nito at kung pwede sana mas maraming BHWs at hindi lamangselected (I already have an idea about TB because I always attend talks related to it but handling Dengvaxia is new to me. I hope there would be more conventions like this and if possible more BHWs could come and not yet selected)," she said.

Some 530 BHWs attended the convention. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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