gautengNews24 reports that community health workers could soon be on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus without the masks and other protective gear they need to stay healthy, says the secretary of the Gauteng Community Health Care Forum Tshepo Matoko.  

Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku announced early in March that the province would train 1,000 community health workers to trace the close contacts of coronavirus patients.  But the call to action has been met with some backlash from unions and health workers who say they have been risking their lives for too long with little pay.  Community health workers across Gauteng have already started reporting shortages of protective gear, including a lack of respirator masks.  A team of 48 community health workers in a Gauteng clinic were apparently given no masks to protect them, just one 750 ml bottle of hand sanitiser to share.  Community health workers have long fought the health department to be made permanent employees.  Presently, community health workers around the country have one year agreements with the health department, which means that they get a monthly stipend of R3,500, but don’t get other benefits like medical aid or pension.”  In emails to Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku, Matoko has demanded that all community health workers be made employees of the health department, and that they must be given equipment to protect themselves against the coronavirus.

Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page