President Cyril Ramaphosa recently signed the Minimum Wage Bill into law which prompted the KwaZulu-Natal health department to raise the stipend for key workers.
Over 1 000 Community Caregivers (CCG) from KwaZulu-Natal have received an increase in their stipend from R1 500 to R3 500.
peaking at a ceremony in Pietermaritzburg to officially announce the stipend increase, KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo said the province’s 10 771 CCGs were working hard in taking primary healthcare services to poor people’s homes.
KwaZulu-Natal's CCGs visit people’s homes, and provide various services such as facilitating treatment for chronic patients; identifying and tracing those who default on medication and referring them to doctors.
They also test girls aged 15 and upwards for pregnancy.
This alone has helped to significantly increase the number of women who present for early antenatal booking at clinics. This means that any underlying illnesses which could affect the pregnancy are diagnosed early.
“CCGs received a stipend of R1 500. Despite earning that little, they would sometimes get to certain homes and find that a patient has not eaten,” said MEC Dhlomo.
“From the little that they have, they would buy bread or maas for the gogo and give her pills. In some instances, they would help buy soap to help the elderly wash their clothes. So, these are people who have a calling,” she said.
“The government had talks with the workers and a decision was reached on the minimum wage for everyone, which was R3 500.”
MEC Dhlomo also congratulated those former CCGs who took opportunities to upgrade their careers, and are now nurses and nutrition advisors.
Former CCG Bongi Nzimande, from the Ngubeni area in Pietermaritzburg, was among those who thanked the government for bringing change and dignity into their lives.
She said working as a CCG motivated her to further her studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal after receiving a bursary facilitated by the department for her to do a one-year course in nutrition.
After completing her course, she started working as a nutrition advisor.
“I was able to buy a second-hand car for my mother within a short period of time. And with the passing of time, I also bought building materials and built my mother a home,” she said.
“Today, I earn a decent income. I'm thankful to the government for this opportunity and all the support," she said.