South Africa 5.3.2018 07:32 am

Unpaid community health workers ‘no cause for alarm’

Dr Gwen Malegwale Ramokgopa, Gauteng health MEC. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Dr Gwen Malegwale Ramokgopa, Gauteng health MEC. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

The Gauteng department of health has assured workers they would receive their unpaid February stipends this week.

The Gauteng department of health is assuring the public that the services of community health workers are not going to be terminated.

This follows a sit-in at the offices of health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa last week after thousands of community-based workers were not paid.

The department also promised workers they would receive their unpaid February stipends this week.

According to Democratic Alliance Gauteng spokesperson for health Jack Bloom, about 8 000 Gauteng community health workers were not paid the R2 500 stipend in February. Department spokesperson Lesemang Matuka said this was due to technical glitches in the payment system which have subsequently been resolved.

“The payments will be made early next week,” Matuka said.

Describing their role as inclusive of providing health education, counselling, visiting patients and the elderly at their homes and strengthening primary health care, he said: “Through this programme the department aims to empower communities to optimise wellness and encourage early referral to clinics.

“It also helps to reduce long queues in health facilities through the community-based chronic medicine distribution services.”

Bloom said that last month, some community health workers were paid late or not at all, or were discharged. He is calling on health department officials to clarify the employment status of community health workers.

This is to avoid the suffering of many elderly and house-bound patients who are dependent on home-based care services.

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