The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has partnered with the Department of Health (DOH) to strengthen the role of the Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs) in helping Filipinos navigate the public healthcare system.

At the national launch, DOH Secretary Francisco T. Duque III expressed his support for the initiative that expands the role of BHERTs in the community, capitalizing on the service infrastructure the department has built over the past seven months not only for effective COVID-19 response but also for universal health care (UHC).

The UHC law provides that each household must be assigned under the coverage of a barangay health emergency response team that will help them gain access to public healthcare services, including PhilHealth-covered COVID-19 services, primary care services, immunization, and consultations.

“While we continue to communicate the minimum public health standards and other services of our pandemic response, we cannot expect Filipinos to access services from our healthcare system on their own,” Sec. Duque said. “Through this partnership, our BHERTs will become our community navigators in promoting localized solutions and services that every Filipino can access,” he added.

BHERTs, initially tasked to provide immediate and appropriate emergency assistance during the pandemic, work closely with the national and local governments to implement necessary health programs and standards in, as well as disseminate protocols and updates to, their assigned households.

In February, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año ordered all barangay chairpersons to form BHERT teams composed of an executive officer, a barangay tanod, and two barangay health workers–either a nurse or midwife — as first-line respondents in the community to help manage all COVID-related healthcare issues. 

As of August this year, the DOH noted 39,347 BHERTs nationwide. All the barangays in the following regions have 100 percent activated BHERTS: Region I (3,267), Region II (2,311), Region V (3,471), Region IX (1,904), Region XI (1,162), Region XII (1,195), Cordillera Administrative Region (1,176), and National Capital Region (1,709).

Meanwhile Region III’s 3,084 barangays have 99.42 percent activated BHERTs; Region X’s 2,014 barangays, 99.60 percent; Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao’s (BARMM) 2,581 barangays, 99 percent; Region VIII’s 4,121 barangays, 93.87 percent; Region XIII’s 1,186 barangays, 90.47 percent; and MIMAROPA’s 770 barangays, 53 percent activation

“Through the joint efforts of the DILG and the DOH, we can make our communities safer from COVID-19 by enabling Filipinos to take charge of their health through the help of our BHERTs,” Sec. Duque said.

The Health Secretary added that over the seven months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the DOH  has made strides toward embracing the new normal by communicating to the public the minimum public health standards. With the help of the DILG and local chief executives, the BIDA ang may Disiplina: Solusyon sa COVID-19 movement has helped localize and disseminate these minimum public health standards in communities nationwide.