Important but Neglected: A Qualitative Study on the Lived Experiences of Barangay Health Workers in the Philippines

47 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2023

See all articles by Kenneth Hartigan-Go

Kenneth Hartigan-Go

Ateneo Policy Center, School of Government, Ateneo de Manila University; Asian Institute of Management

Sheena Valenzuela

Ateneo de Manila University - Ateneo School of Government

Melissa Louise Prieto

Ateneo de Manila University - Ateneo School of Government

Date Written: April 2023

Abstract

Within a decentralized health system, barangay health workers (BHWs) are often the first point of contact for Filipinos seeking care. BHWs perform many critical roles in health care delivery and act as the bridge between the community and the health system. However, despite their importance, BHWs are neglected in the health value chain. The study examines the lived experiences of BHWs. It draws on seven focus group discussions with BHWs (n = 50), residents (n = 7), and local government officials and health workers (n = 7) of San Miguel, Bulacan. Thematic analysis was conducted to analyze the data. Findings show that BHWs perform many roles, which are not limited to health and are dependent on orders from the top. There are no guidelines followed in appointing BHWs, with personal connections valued more than technical qualifications. Furthermore, their accreditation is hardly conferred any significance. There is also a lack of formal and structured training. The informality of the appointment, accreditation, and training of BHWs results in the absence of quality assurance on rendered health services. The non-provision of incentives and benefits stipulated in RA 7883 also places their health and lives at risk. BHWs cite their willingness to help as their driving force to remain volunteers. However, this commitment to serve is used to excuse the inadequacy of their compensation and excessive workload. The study concludes with policy recommendations to improve the conditions of the neglected BHWs, with particular attention to coordinating, capacitating, compensating, career pathing, and connecting them to the health system.

Note:
Funding Information: The study is funded by AIA Philippines (formerly Philam Foundation).

Conflict of Interests: The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval: Ethical approval for the study was obtained from the University Research Ethics Committee (UREC) of Ateneo de Manila University. The researchers also obtained written informed consent from BHWs prior to conducting the FGDs.

Keywords: barangay health workers, community health workers, universal health care, health systems, Philippines

Suggested Citation

Hartigan-Go, Kenneth and Valenzuela, Sheena and Prieto, Melissa Louise, Important but Neglected: A Qualitative Study on the Lived Experiences of Barangay Health Workers in the Philippines (April 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4461587 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4461587

Kenneth Hartigan-Go

Ateneo Policy Center, School of Government, Ateneo de Manila University ( email )

Pacifico Ortiz Hall, Fr. Arrupe Road,
Ateneo de Manila University
Quezon City, Metro Manila 1108
Philippines

Asian Institute of Management ( email )

123 Paseo de Roxas
Legazpi Village
Makati, Metro Manila 1229
Philippines

Sheena Valenzuela

Ateneo de Manila University - Ateneo School of Government ( email )

Pacifico Ortiz Hall, Fr. Arrupe Road
Social Development Complex, Loyola Heights
Quezon City, Manila 1108
Philippines

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Sheena_Valenzuela

Melissa Louise Prieto (Contact Author)

Ateneo de Manila University - Ateneo School of Government ( email )

ASOG – Ateneo de Manila University Loyola Heights
Quezon City, Metro Manila 1108
Philippines

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