DOH health caravan to benefit .2M call center agents

May 24, 2013 10:24 pm 

MANILA, May 24 — An initial number of 200,000 call center employees will soon benefit from free health services in the Department of Health’s (DOH) health caravan dubbed “iCARE: Healthy Workplace Office Caravan”.

iCARE, which stands for I am a Caring and Responsible Employee or Employer will be implemented for three years and will start by targeting about 30 call centers within Metro Manila from June 1 to July 31 this year.

Chairman of project iCARE, Dr. Ethelyn Nieto said during a press conference on Friday that seven out of 10 causes of morbidity were due to non-communicable diseases, thus the DOH thought of having a different approach to a healthier lifestyle.

“This will help establish a foundation of healthy lifestyle habits in our workforce especially now that people are too stressed out,” Nieto said.

Aside from creating health awareness and providing free health assessment, Nieto, who is also former Health Undersecretary, said that the project aims to generate health data from call centers and compile them.

Meanwhile, Assistant Health Secretary Eric Tayag said that call center agents were prioritized specifically because the Philippines is the number one supplier of call center agents in the world and contributes to domestic output, being the second largest forex contributor next to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

However, about two-third of the call center workforce live an unhealthy lifestyle because of having different working time shifts, not getting to eat proper meals and even engaging in cigarette smoking to stay awake, Tayag said.

Representative from the Occupational Health and Safety Center (OHSC) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Engr. Jomar Batino said that iCARE was a responsive program for all employees in general.

“There is really a significant concern in health workers,” Batino said. “If you look at statistics, although the number of workplace injuries due to accidents have decreased, cases of illnesses and diseases have increased.”

“Hopefully this project will be a springboard towards the realization that not only call centers but other industries as well that there is a need to improve health among the workers,” he added.

Top priority

According to Call Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP) Executive Director Jojo Uligan, even though companies already had their own health and wellness programs offered in the company, it would be more effective if both public and private sectors worked together in making this more effective.

Uligan added that employees’ health and well-being was important because the employees themselves keep the industry alive.

“It is very important to us that they (employees) are healthy and physically fit because our business is our people,” Uligan said.

“Without our people there is no business for us, it is a top priority to make sure that we protect them and provide them with things that they need and perform duty with all safety things for them,” he said.

Furthermore, he explained how the lack of healthy lifestyle was not an industry-specific problem, but a general problem of the young population.<p“It’s really up to the person if they want to be healthy,” he said. “By the end of the day, it’s a matter of making a decision (to live healthy).”

He said that with the iCARE program, he hopes that it will be able to help more people make the decision that they want to live healthy.

“If they are healthy, especially in our industry, they will provide a better service to our clients which will in turn, provide us and the country more opportunity,” he said.

“Once there are clients that see that opportunity, they will go to the Philippines, invest and in turn, provide jobs for Filipinos, and economy will continue to increase,” he added. (PNA)

JBP/ANP AND MRJ-OJT

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