Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Community Health Workers Affirm Role in Philippine Health Care


May 4, 2010
For Reference: Sr.Edita Eslopor 0929-2692637 / 881-0910

On May 5, 2010, community health workers representing health programs from Metro Manila and Luzon will come together in an assembly to assess their role in the health care system and to affirm their commitment towards serving their communities. Themed "Community Health Workers: Pagtibayin ang Pagkakaisa Tungo sa Ibayong Paglilingkod sa Sambayanan" (Community Health Workers: Affirm Unity Towards Service to the People.) The assembly will be held at the Philippine Nurses Association, Inc., Malate, Manila.

Community health workers are credible members of the community who were selected by the people themselves to assist them in their health needs. They have been internationally recognized at the 1978 Alma-Ata Conference in Russia as a key in promoting a standard of health and well-being for all people.

Since 1972, the Philippines started developing community health workers to be health educators, health service providers and leaders. Today, the presence of more than 15,000 volunteer community health workers in over 50 community-based health programs nationwide is more than needed, especially in underserved urban and far-flung rural communities, said Sister Edita Eslopor, a Benedictine nun, community health organizer and the Council for Health and Development's board chairperson.

Community Health Workers are trained by physicians and other health professionals from community-based health programs to take history and do physical examination of patients; to prevent and manage common diseases both through Western and traditional healing methods using acupuncture, acupressure and herbal medicine. We also learn when and how to refer patients who require more intensive treatment to the health centers, medical specialists or to hospitals, said Melquiades Yandog, a community health worker from Payatas, Quezon City and president of KilosBayan para sa Kalusugan (People's Movement for Health), an alliance of people's organizations and individuals supportive of CBHP initiatives.

In this assembly, community health professionals and advocates will present CHWs an award in recognition of their noble and invaluable role in the community. Community health workers continue to fight against common diseases; they understand that poverty causes such preventable diseases. They are in communities where it is difficult to travel. Their commitment to serve persists amid red-baiting and danger to their lives, explained Sister Edita.

We will continue being community health workers where the need for our service persists and until health services become available and affordable especially to us poor Filipinos said Yandog.

Community-based health programs staffed by health professionals train community health workers to provide basic health services, to be educators and leaders. In many cases, these community health workers receive no salaries, and rely mainly on contributions from support groups and communities to sustain health services, trainings, and other operational costs.

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