Community Healthcare Workers (CHWs) from the North West and Mpumalanga provinces came to Gauteng for a meeting with Gauteng Community Health Care Forum. The meeting was held so that the CHWs can all together come up with a strategy to fight for their permanent status in their regions, and was held at the House of Movement in Johannesburg.
In the meeting, CHWs gathered from the three provinces share their struggles.
Anna Kgaphola started working at an NGO called Lethabong HBC from 2015 where she experienced the problem of late payments and was mistreated by the project manager. Also there were no proper training that was given to CHWs. After they were moved by the Department of Health to Kameelpoortnek Clinic in April 2020 (in North West) their payments are now in order and they are get the stipend of R3500 plus the airtime allowance of R100 per month.
Lebo Phashe was CHW at Lethabo HBC from 2017 and was absorbed by the DoH in 2020 April to work at Kameelpoortnek Clinic, now receiving the stipend of R3600. She say before she was absorbed she was mistreated by the project managers at the NGO.
Phashe say she was helped by the Gauteng Community Health Care Forum to absorbed into the DoH, and they want to be permanent employees like CHWs in the Gauteng.
Cinthia Marima worked from 2014 as a CHW at an NGO called Buhle be Sizwe HBC. She said that at these NGOs they were divided into two: the Home Based Carers and the Peer Educators. She added; “we are still volunteers until now although we are based at the clinics and submit statistics [reports] to the Department of Health. No one is saying anything about the stipend we are supposed to be getting. Our working hours are from 8am to 1pm even though we are supposed to work from 8am till 4pm. But we refused as we are not getting paid.”
Zodwa from Tholulwazi NGO has worked as a CHW from 2016 but still receives no stipend. Part of the services they rendered was visiting households but they were told that they are no longer needed as volunteers because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I have a child who I have to take care of and now I’m struggling financially,” Zodwa said.
Zakhele Nkosi and Thembelihle Kheswa are both from the same NGO, Isibusiso, and don’t get any stipend from the project manager. While some CHWs have been absorbed into the clinics and get the stipend, many others had been left behind.
Julia Kgosi who is from Ditsobotla Region in the North West Province, started working at an NGO called Bolokanang in 2001 and 2002. The organisation was under a Catholic Church and they were only getting the R24 donation from the Bishop. As she has two children and a granddaughter, she was unable to make a living out of this money. Julia then moved to Aganang HBC in 2016, which was under a clinic. She now receives a stipend of R3500 and R100 airtime to communicate with the Team Leaders (OTLs) and her clients.
Itumeleng Seretse has never worked at the NGO and has been based in Bloemhof Community Healthcare Centre from 2016. According to Itumeleng when they try to engage with the Department of Health about being made permanent the Department says there too are many CHWs and they don’t have money to pay them. They were also told that only those with matric would be made permanent employees.
Doreen from Dr K district in the North West has been a CHW from 2016 at Sivukile Support Group. She did not gett any stipend until December 2012. She was then moved to Mohading clinic in 2013 and got a R1200 stipend until 2015, when it was increased to R2200 and in 2017 again it was increased to 3500 with R100 airtime allowance. “The North West MEC must make us permanent like the Gauteng CHWs,” Doreen said.
Tshepo Khoza used to work at Thibela Bolwetse HBC from 2011 and in 2013 was absorbed into Hebron Clinic. Khoza said “We are doing the same job as the CHWs in Gauteng and we all have the same Minister of Health. Why are we not permanent? This is not fair for us.” He concluded by saying “we are going to fight to be permanent”.
This article was first published in Forum News, the newsletter of the Gauteng Community Health Care Forum, in its’ October 2020 edition.