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New House bill appoints health workers within indigenous groups

New House bill appoints health workers within indigenous groups

health worker indigenous communities

More than 17 million indigenous peoples in the Philippines still have limited access to primary health care services.

Majority of tribes living in remote areas lack access to medical facilities and services by health professionals. Despite the existence of community clinics, many indigenous peoples are still not aware of their rights to these kinds of services.

In some cases, as reported by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development in 2013, elderly tribe members would rather rely on herbal medicines than seek professional medical attention because their families could not afford its cost, as well as the travel to and from medical facilities. Most families in indigenous communities earn roughly P5,000 monthly, which further lessens their interest in availing professional help.

Since indigenous peoples are having a hard time of going to community clinics, solons decided to bring the knowledge of medicine services to them. The House Committee on Appropriations approved on Aug. 29 a bill focused on training tribal health workers in providing adequate health care to members of indigenous communities.

Authored by House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the bill mandates indigenous communities to assign one tribal health worker for every 20 families. Each community chief will appoint volunteers to take up a health care training program from a local government or non-government organization. Upon training completion, the Department of Health will record the names of the health workers, which will be furnished to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and the Department of Interior and Local Government.

The health workers will render services that are inexpensive, culturally sensitive, and conforms to the customary laws and practices of their respective tribes. They will likewise administer immunizations of children and assist in birthing services.

In respect to the beliefs and traditions of the indigenous peoples, the appointed workers will also be in charge of establishing a herb garden for  traditional medicines.


Header image courtesy of Inquirer

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