J&J and DOH to Work Hand in Hand to Address BPO Workers' Health Concerns
DOH Secretary, Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial, indicated that the BPO sector is deemed to be one of the fastest-growing industries in the country and is "imperative to address every health risk of the employees".
"These BPO employees represent a significant portion of the country's workforce today, thus it is imperative that we address every health risk that they face in their work, including lack of sleep and job-related stress that they try to counteract with unhealthy lifestyles, among others. These are all risk factors that can lead to serious health conditions, " Ubial stated, naming diseases such as gastrointestinal diseases, , diabetes, respiratory tract infections, mental-health diseases, and cardiovascular diseases and
Hence the J&J and DOH built a partnership last October 6 to tackle the country's BPO agents' well-being by establishing the BPO Healthcare Program. The program's goal is to offer quality and useful healthcare information to each and every agent for them to be able to make wiser health choices. They aim to achieve this by having healthcare professionals with BPO focused models undergo intensive training. This will make their diagnosis better and more accurate, and eventually improve BPO's health and wellness.
"BPO agents are among the hardest working employees. Their work makes a difference in helping the country and, more important, uplifting their families. Our goal is to make sure we start a conversation with every BPO agent and help them live healthier and more vibrant lives," Jeffrey Go, J&J Philippines President and Managing Director, stated.
The BPO Healthcare Program is set to be launched in the latter part of this year and will include various activities intended to ensure that quality healthcare information is accessible to every BPO employee either via their company doctors or nurses or through electronic platforms aimed at them. The program will be carried on all through 2018 with the ultimate goal of involving each and every BPO employee nationwide.
Health issues that employees often encounter include fatigue, headache, chest and back pain, eyes strain and vocal problems. In addition, since most BPO workers serve European and American clients, they have to work graveyard shifts due to varying time zones. Graveyard shift is capable of disrupting the employees' work and social life and may have an effect on their psychological health. Nuisance from enraged clients is another factor which is found to be the major cause of stress of BPO workers.
It is also found that the BPO sector had the higher cases of HIV/AIDS as compared to other sectors as per the 2010 research entitled "Lifestyle and Reproductive Health Issues of Young Professionals in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu", by the University of the Philippines Population Institute, which revealed "Philippine workers in contact centers, compared to workers in other sectors, faced a higher probability of exposure to HIV/AIDS; the stress they experience in the workplace, among other factors, could encourage risky sexual behavior."
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BPO employees need access to accurate and useful information for them to educate themselves in dealing with these health concerns. Considering the BPO sector is a current phenomenon, they are deemed to be special cases of the population the health system is yet to reach. As per the Philippine Health Agenda, one of the promises is that healthcare services should be accessible to everyone. Since DOH is so close to achieving universal healthcare, the goal is to reach the unreached, like BPO workers, and serving them the basic healthcare services such as yearly checkups.