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BPO health challenges: Studies on the susceptibility of BPO employees to diseases prompts DOH BPO health program.

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Working in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector is challenging. The stress and pressure is constantly on the sidelines in the form of quotas and solving customer issues. These are then supplemented with unhealthy lifestyle habits that compensate for shifts in the body clock. Loss of sleep, high-caffeine intake, and eating from instant and 24/7 fast food chains are aggravated by drinking and smoking. This makes BPO employees prone to health problems.

Attending to the issue, the Department of Health (DOH) recently partnered with multinational healthcare company Johnson and Johnson (J&J) to further educate the BPO industry on adapting a healthier lifestyle. The sector employed 1.3 million employees as of 2016. Studies proving the susceptibility of BPO workers to various illnesses such as cardiovascular, respiratory and sexual diseases prompted the move.

Health-related studies about the BPO workforce

The International Labor Organization Asia-Pacific’s study entitled  “Business Process Outsourcing in the Philippines: Challenges for Decent Work” revealed that high levels of stress is familiar among BPO workers. This is especially true for call center agents required to address customer requests. They interact with people ranging between 78 to 100 on a daily basis. Besides stress, the same study also revealed that BPO workers commonly suffer from exhaustion, body pain and voice problems. A contributing factor is the inevitable night shifts in the differences in time zones of European and American clients.

Stress levels leading to risky behavior

Another health issue in the sector, revealed by the University of the Philippines Population Institute in their study entitled  “Lifestyle and Reproductive Health Issues of Young Professionals in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu” states that BPO workers have higher probability of exposure to HIV/AIDS. They underline that the engagement in risky sexual activities was mainly driven by stress. Such claims were supported in an International Labor Office-funded study made by the Ateneo de Manila University’s Department of Psychology. The study shows that BPO employees who were stressed are more likely to engage in frequent unprotected sex and promiscuous activities.

The BPO Healthcare Program

Undeniably, BPO employees play a vital role in the country’s labor force. They comprise in the sector that has been been significantly contributing to the growth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). With this, it is crucial to address any health problems that puts them at risk.

In the BPO Healthcare Program through the J&J and DOH partnership, BPO employees will be provided with different activities that aims to give them access to quality healthcare information and services. The program is set to be implemented on October 2017 and extended until 2018, with the long-term objective of engaging every BPO employee to live a much healthier lifestyle.

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