The Gauteng Community Healthcare Forum (Forum), was formed and is run by Community Health Workers (CHWs) in Gauteng who have been playing an important part in the delivering of healthcare service to communities. As CHWs we have been crucial in the healthcare system through various programmes, including testing of, and prevention against HIV and TB, as well as health promotion in general.
It’s now close to 10 years since representatives of CHWs in Gauteng, organised in the Forum, began engaging Heads of Departments in government with the view to address many of the challenges that they face as they try to bring healthcare services to the community that they serve.
Although we are now permanent, during induction many CHWs reported to Forum members that they feel their right to freedom of affiliation is being violated. The Department of Health (DoH) is violating the right of CHWs by not allowing them to join structures of their choice, they are not allowed to strike even though this is guaranteed by the constitution, or wear the regalia of some of the structures they are part of, while other health workers are allowed to wear regalia representing other health-related (trade union) structures such as the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa), Public Servants Assocation of South Africa (PSA), National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) and Health & Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa).
Even where the Department acknowledges CHWs rights, there is still bad treatment by management at the clinics. When there are campaigns by the DoH, CHWs are not provided with toilets or catering to ensure the success of the campaign. Ever since the CHWs were absorbed as permanent employees of the Department, we have not been given a clear work scope. We have seen CHWs instructed to wash windows and provide gardening services in some clinics, which its not what CHWs are trained to do.
The Forum condemns the exploitation of, and bad attitude of managers towards the CHWs. The CHWs are demanding pay slips, a proper scope of practice during the eight hour shift that CHWs are now contracted to work, equal treatment like all other Department employees and finally, respect.
We are calling for management to stop treating CHWs as if they are not visible or vital to the healthcare system.
This statement was released on 1 December 2020. 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.