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Training for Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs) of Medellin, Cebu

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Two batches of BHERTs members successfully finished their trainings on COVID-19 response in Medellin, Cebu on September 3, 2020.

The first batch of training was held in the conference room of the Medellin Central Elementary School. The second batch was held in the conference room of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) in Medellin.

The Visayas Primary Healthcare Services, Inc. (VPHCS) project team made it sure that both venues were spacious for physical distancing and well-ventilated with windows and doors open all the time during the conduct of the training. As a health protocol, the participants were asked to wash their hands and sanitize using 70% alcohol. Those without masks were also given a mask. Their temperatures were also checked before proceeding to the registration area.

Upon registration, they were asked to provide important information such as their mobile numbers, email addresses and addresses where they are currently staying, among others. They were told that the information they provide may be shared with local public health authorities if any participant becomes ill with a suspected infectious disease and that they have to agree to this protocol to attend the training.

The participants were provided with the training manual in Cebuano, including Contact Line List Form and Contact Tracing Signs and Symptoms Log Form, and 70% alcohol for frequent hand disinfection while the training is ongoing. They were also asked to sign the health declaration tool and the consent form to take pictures, and given blank sheets to answer their pre-test and post-tests and post-training evaluation form.

The first batch had a total number of 23 participants, coming from Barangays Luy-a, Mahawak, Don Virgilio Gonzales, and Caputatan Norte. The second batch had a total number of 28 participants, coming from Barangays Poblacion, Panugnawan, Daanlungsod, Antipolo, Canhabagat, and Lamintak Norte. They were comprised of barangay health workers (BHWs), barangay tanod, barangay captain, barangay councilor, barangay representative, barangay nutrition scholars (BNS).

The methods of discussion consisted of lectures by PowerPoint, video presentation, demonstration and return demonstration of hand washing and alcohol rub, workshop and questions and answer session. There was also an interactive exchange of ideas and experiences of the participants in between the lectures.

The topics discussed by VPHCS covered the basic information about COVID-19, policies regarding BHERTs, assessment of the functions of BHERTs, composition of BHERT, roles and functions of BHERT, guidelines in conducting home visits for BHERTs, infection prevention and control (IPC), and risk communication and community engagement (RCCE).

The training started with a prayer and the singing of the Philippine National Anthem. It was followed with an orientation of the health and safety protocols observed in the conduct of the activity. The moderators for the two batches also introduced VPHCS’ works to the participants to get to know the organization more and also to build trust with the participants.

A pre-test of the topics covered was conducted prior to the start of the discussion. The same test served as the post-test right after the training.

The members of BHERTs were oriented on the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), its mode of transmission and the current Covid-19 situation updates in the Philippines. The DOH and DILG issuances on BHERT composition and roles and functions relative to Covid-19 response were also discussed by the resource speaker.

Data and forms are part of their daily monitoring and recording as BHERTs and so their importance was explained as well as how those forms can be used in the Covid-19 information system. It was also demonstrated how to fill out or use each form as part of their functions.

The discussion was followed by presenting guidelines on how to conduct routine household visits.

It was also explained by the resource speaker that despite their duties as BHERTs members in response to Covid-19, other essential health services must not be set aside. Health services for the people in their barangay must continue in the new normal.

And speaking of new normal health protocols, the resource speaker also discussed and demonstrated simple infection prevention and control measures such as proper handwashing and disinfecting of hands using 70% alcohol, proper wearing and removing of medical masks, among others.

Risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) was also tackled during the training. Basically, this is to give them proper guidelines on how to communicate and deal with the people in their barangays in this time of the pandemic and while performing their crucial tasks as BHERTs members.

The participants were asked to fill out the post-evaluation training form right after the discussions and the post-test were conducted.

Resource persons for the first batch included Irish Grace Ramirez and Edgar Gahisan. The second batch had Dr. Erlinda Posadas, Lora Manigos, and Lucila Carreon. Jerhald Agcang, VPHCS field worker and Lourdes Geolin, VPHCS staff were in-charge of the registration and documentation for the first batch. The second batch had Armel Pontillas, VPHCS field worker in-charge of the registration and documentation.

The facilitators followed the guide for facilitators in the conduct of the BHERTs training as provided by the RTI International.

Both trainings started at around 10:00 a.m. and ended at around 4:30 p.m. A group picture was taken for both batches. Lunch and snacks were also served while observing the new normal health protocols.

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