Rep. Diosdado ‘Dato’ Arroyo would have health workers come from tribes
MANILA, Philippines—Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado “Dato” Arroyo on Saturday urged the House of Representatives to prioritize a proposed law that would train tribal health workers (THW) for deployment to the country’s indigenous communities in order to better serve them.
Arroyo, along with his mother, former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, had filed House Bill No. 5227 or the Tribal Health Workers Act of 2011 which seeks to institutionalize the training and employment of tribal health workers. The measure is now in the House committee on health.
In pushing for the bill’s passage, Arroyo said that most tribes and settlements of indigenous cultural communities (ICC) were located in the hinterlands, making it difficult for them to avail themselves of medical and health services.
He said the measure would boost government efforts at reaching out to the remotest sectors of society in terms of health services by involving their own THWs.
“Members of these cultural and tribal communities know their needs best and the government must take advantage of this human resource ready to be tapped,” Arroyo said.
He said that for the past decades, government agencies and nongovernment organizations had sought ways to improve the health of the indigenous peoples.
With the formal health care delivery system in the country mostly located in cities and municipalities, there is an urgent need to train health workers from tribal communities to intensify the practice of traditional and alternative medicine as well as first-aid treatment for their members, he said.
The lawmaker recalled that through Republic Act No. 7883 or the Barangay Health Workers Benefits and Incentives Act of 1995, the national government was able to train barangay health workers to provide primary health care to their respective communities through competitive benefits and incentives packages.
“But despite this law, many tribal communities remained unserved by barangay health workers, especially during the night, weekends and holidays,” Arroyo said, adding that the training of tribal health workers would complement existing efforts at the barangay level.
“These tribal health workers will now be made responsible for providing primary health care in their respective communities on a 24-hour basis,” he said.
“Their deployment is intended to complement the Department of Health in pursuing effective community-based health services, especially in remote and isolated areas,” he added.
The bill also provides for benefits that include free health care insurance and hospitalization; makes transferrable (to one legitimate child) educational benefits like free tuition in public high schools and universities; provides for continuing training by the DOH and free legal services on work-related problems.
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