The Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Health have begun the retooling of barangay health emergency response teams (BHERTs) nationwide to ensure effective local Covid-19 management and response in the communities.
“Ngayong pababa na ang mga kaso sa ating bansa, the only way that we can maintain the momentum is to ensure that our BHERTs are functioning well. They are our first line of defense,” DILG Sec. Eduardo M. Año said.
He stressed the importance of enhancing the skills and capacities of over 46,621 BHERTS in the country to ensure they can protect and respond to the needs of the communities amid the pandemic.
“Nakasalalay sa BHERTs ang tuluyang pagsugpo sa Covid-19. Sa kanilang maagap at epektibong pagkilos, hindi kakalat ang virus sa buong komunidad hanggang sa maging zero case na tayo,” he said.
Año said BHERTs is tasked, among others, to conduct health promotions and education in the barangay, implement minimum health standards, conduct contact tracing at the household level, and monitor Covid-19 cases under home quarantine daily.
Under DILG Memorandum Circular 2020-023, LGUs must organize BHERTS at the minimum ratio of one team for every 5,000 population and mobilize them to help implement prevention and mitigation, preparedness, and response measures for Covid-19.
Each BHERT is composed of one executive officer, a barangay tanod, and two barangay health workers, one of them a nurse or a midwife, and ideally, they are equipped with protective gear.
The DILG and DOH launched the “Barangay Health Emergency Response Team is our First Responders in Ending N-COV Diseases” (BHERT-Friends) Project, which aims to enhance the knowledge and skills of BHERTs in performing their duties and to strengthen their capacities during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Through this project, we are assured that our BHERTS will undergo a retooling, retraining, or refresher course to better equip them with skills on how to manage Covid-19 in their communities,” said DILG Usec. and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya.
Malaya said with the support of the Local Government Academy, the BHERTS-Friends project will launch a series of online workshops and training to help BHERTs strategize and accomplish tasks and to help them develop their own materials.
In partnership with the Alliance for Improving Health Outcomes and the Asia Foundation, the joint project will also equip frontliners on the ground with actionable information through the BHERTS Pocket Guide which will be distributed to the teams.
The guide, written in Filipino, contains vital information such as the roles of BHERTS and the sign and symptoms of Covid-19.
Community-level action points are also included to guide them on when to refer to a hospital, how to conduct case investigation, contact tracing, case monitoring and tips for reintegration, and reducing stigma.
Malaya encouraged everyone not to rely on BHERTs alone, but to help the country through self-discipline by following minimum health standards. – DILG release