News on Health and Nutrition in Eastern Visayas region
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Magna Carta for Barangay Nutrition Scholars turned over for legislation

August 10, 2011

TACLOBAN CITY  –  A bill that will improve the working conditions of the country’s Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNS) was recently turned over for Eastern Visayas’ legislators to sponsor and pass in Congress.

Region 8 BNS Federation President Lydia Nuñez, together with Department of Health (DOH) Regional Director Edgardo M. Gonzaga and National Nutrition Council (NNC) Regional Director Carina Z. Santiago, handed to Southern Leyte lone district Cong. Roger G. Mercado the draft Magna Carta of BNS in front of the cheering 4,000 BNSs during the conduct of the 1st Eastern Visayas BNS Congress held July 28, 2011, this city.

Director Gonzaga, Chair of the Regional Nutrition Committee who drafted the proposed bill, appealed to all congressmen of Region 8 to sponsor and support the passage of the measure in Congress, saying once legislated, it would strengthen the BNS Program.

The six-page draft Magna Carta proposes for the State to adopt the BNS Program as a human resource development strategy of the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition. This involves the training, deployment and supervision of volunteer workers or BNSs.  This was a strategy mandated with the promulgation of Presidential Decree No. 1569, which requires the deployment of one BNS in every barangay and for the NNC to administer the program in cooperation with local government units (LGUs).

A Barangay Nutrition Scholar, in the proposed legislation, means a trained community worker who links the community with service providers, with the following qualifications: bonafide resident of the Barangay for at least one (1) year, with ability to speak the dialect; possession of leadership potentials and the initiative and willingness to serve the Barangay for at least one (1) year; willingness to learn, and to teach what he/she has learned to the Barangay people; at least high school graduate; physical and mental fitness; and at least 18 years old but not more than 60 years old.

Aside from the “knowledge that they have served their community by helping prevent unnecessary child deaths” as their best reward, the BNSs shall enjoy the following benefits, privileges and incentives as proposed in the draft Magna Carta: (1) After completing two consecutive years of satisfactory service, the BNS can avail of a second grade civil service eligibility, which gives them the chance to become a full-fledged civil servant should the BNS qualify for a vacant position in the local government; (2) BNSs shall be entitled to an allowance of at least Two Thousand Pesos (P2,000.00) per month; (3) BNSs shall also receive a yearly uniform allowance for the purchase of uniform t-shirt and jacket/vest, etc, from the LGU; (4) BNSs shall be enrolled in PhilHealth under the Indigent Program of the LGU; (5) BNSs shall be entitled to hazard pay of One Hundred Twenty Pesos (P120.00) per month; and (6) The NNC, in coordination with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, shall formulate a scholarship program where incumbent and deserving BNSs shall be given the opportunity to avail of a scholarship grant in any institution offering two-year courses, it was gathered.