On 30 June 2021, 38 Community Healthcare Workers (CHWs) whose contracts were previously terminated; were finally reinstated. The CHWs work in Zuurbekom, under the Rand West City Municipality’s Department of Health and Social Development (on the west rand of Gauteng). They were contracted on 12-month fixed term contracts that were renewed more than 6 times by the municipality.
The Department of Health and Social Development, under the Rand West City Municipality, is funded to assist the community of Zuurbekom (and surrounding areas) to better manage their health and wellness. This includes promoting improved nutrition, immunisation and education around specific health issues such as HIV/AIDS. This also includes bettering one’s self, awareness on critical health issues within a community and a wide range of skills to better understand and function within the community.
CHW Phumzile Nkosi is one of the 38 CHWs who was reinstated but says that they are still underpaid by the Municipality; “I am earning R2 800.00 per month.” Half of this money goes to the scholar transport for her children and another large part goes to rent.
Patience Mgoqi, who is also a CHW, said they are not provided with Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for COVID-19. “Our municipality does not consider us frontline workers. [They] tell us that they do not have masks and we are forced to buy or use pieces of cloth.” she said.
Some health workers said they even have to buy their own blue uniforms. The workers are only being offered one month maternity leave and 12 days of annual leave, added Mgoqi. “The only way is for the [provincial] Departments of Health to absorb all the CHWs into their system with no ‘Agent’ in between.”
According to Mgoqi, “for the Gauteng Department of Health to fund the municipality, it’s like wasting money” as municipalities have a poor track record of dealing with expenditures and ensuring accountability. The only way forward that she can see is for the CHWs to fight for their right to be employed by the Department of Health because “we deserve the best, we want to be permanent employees of the Department of Health”.
This article was submitted on 2 July 2021. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.