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PIA Press Release

Kalinga targets BnB for every barangay

by P. Balocnit

TABUK CITY (29 September) -- The goal to train one operator of a Botika ng Barangay (BnB) in each barangay in the province maybe achieved before the 2010 target as local government units (LGUs) are on the race of training volunteer operators.

According to Dr. Bernadette Andaya, Provincial Health Team Leader for the Center for Health and Development-Kalinga, the LGU of Balbalan has already trained 12 operators last month and the training will be conducted in the municipalities of Lubuagan and Pasil in November.

There are already four trained operators in Balbalan who are managing BnBs in their respective barangays," Dr. Andaya said.

Prospective BNB operators have to be trained first before the DOH will issue a special license and provide the operator seed capital of P25,000 worth of medicines and drugs to local government through the Philippine International Trading Corp.

Aside from sponsoring the training, Balbalan LGU headed by Mayor Allen Jesse Mangaoang also provided a space and signage for the BnB. For Lubuagan and Pasil, Congressman Manuel Agyao pledged to shoulder the expenses to be incurred during the seminar, Andaya said. She explained that BnB operators are not required to remit any proceeds back to the government but are supposed to roll the money.

A memorandum of agreement is forged between the barangay council and health department to ensure sustainability of the enterprise. However, non-government organizations can also establish and manage a BNB after a representative undergoes the same training and secure license.

Andaya cited the Western Uma BnB in Lubuagan as one of the successfully managed BnB in the province operated by Uma Women in Action, an NGO facilitated by the Anglican church. "It has a functional structure and everything is properly managed and audited," she said.

Among the medicines being sold in BnB outlets are amoxicillin 500 mg capsules for only Php2.02 per capsule as compared to the branded at Php5.10; cotrimoxazole tablet/capsule at Php1.69 per capsule as compared to Php9.20 branded; paracetamol 500 mg tablets at Php.46 per tablet as compared to P1.15, multivitamins for children at Php27.11 per 60ml bottle vis--vis branded at Php45.90 and others. Operators are allowed a maximum mark up price of 30% for every medicine sold.

Andaya informed that there are 35 operating BnBs in the province and they have federated these on September 28 to empowered them to transact business with favored distributors quoting the lowest price of medicine supply under the 'GMA-50' program.

To reach wider swath of the country's poorest with low-priced yet effective medicines, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III launched recently the 10,000th BnB outlet at Barangay Pinagkaisahan in Cubao, Quezon City.

The launching of the BnB outlet is also in line with the observance of the 29th year of the Generics Law. "This is big news as more indigent Filipinos can now have access to low-priced yet effective medicines," Duque said.

BnB, he said, is one of the products of the "Half-Priced Program" of the government, which aim to reduce the cost of medicines commonly bought by the poor to half of their 2001 prices.

It can be recalled that President Arroyo urged the Senate to pass the cheaper medicines act. "The initiative will enable BnBs to grow and compete with commercial drug stores," Andaya said adding that the provision of low-priced yet quality medicines is one of the legacy programs of the Arroyo administration. (PIA Kalinga) [top]

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