Press Releases

Salceda fights for inclusion of Barangay Health Workers, Tanods providing home and community COVID care in grant of Special Risk Allowances; House econ recovery chief says budget clear about coverage of SRA

January 12th, 2022

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district), who is also the House’s economic recovery cluster co-chair and a budget panel vice chair, is asking the Department of Health, the Department of Budget and Management, and the Office of the President to include Barangay Health Workers (BHWs) who are providing home or community COVID-19 care among health care workers (HCWs) eligible for the Special Risk Allowance.

“I am proposing that we make a rule change to AO 36,to include BHWs who are not assigned to health care facilities, but are nonetheless directly involved in contact tracing and distribution of home care packages. They are still at serious risk of infection, especially as they do the face-to-face and door-to-door aspect of our COVID-19 response.”

“The rule change then will be BHWs who are directly assigned to local COVID-19 efforts,” Salceda added.

Salceda said that the rule change will allow local health boards to expand the list of BHWs eligible for COVID-19 SRA.

Under the current guidelines, only BHWs who are assigned to COVID-19 healthcare facilities are eligible for SRAs.

“BHWs are the backbone of our response, especially to Omicron. This variant seems to require hospitalization less, but does require a lot of home care. BHWs provide that care,” Salceda said.

Salceda, who is also a Vice Chair of the House Committee on Appropriations, also explained that the 2022 General Appropriations Act “is clear that this rule change is warranted.”

“The GAA mentions HCWs ‘who are involved in COVID-19 response in all health facilities.’ The Barangay health center and clinic certainly qualifies under “all health facilities.”

“The GAA language is very inclusive. The guidelines should be similarly so.”

“I will be appealing to the DOH, DBM, and OP specifically as Economic Recovery Cluster Co-Chair and as a Budget Committee Vice Chair.”

“We have never compensated BHWs enough. But I say this without exaggeration: The BHW is now the most critical piece of success in the fight against Omicron. This is an extremely infectious, but mild strain if given early or adequate response. Most of the health work needed to respond to Omicron will not be sophisticated hospital work. It will be primary care, the work of the BHW.”

“Severe cases are 0.48% of all cases. Most cases require just home treatment. So, most cases will not even need hospital care. The BHW is still at risk of getting infected by going door to door, as the primary care provider. In fact, if the BHW does their job well, we may further reduce the need for cases to reach the hospital.”

“The BHW is thus the first line of defense against exceeding hospital capacity. If they can hold the line at the community level, we can protect our doctors and nurses better, too.” (end)

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