Over 1 000 Community Caregivers from KwaZulu-Natal have received an increase in their stipend which was R1 500 to R3 500.
Speaking at a ceremony to officially announce the stipend increase in Pietermaritzburg recently, 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 Community Care Givers visit people’s homes, and provide different services such as facilitating treatment for chronic patients; identifying and tracing those who default on medication and referring them.
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 – meaning that any underlying illnesses which could affect the pregnancy are picked up early.
“CCGs were getting 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.”
“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.
“We took a conscious decision to support these children who were earning R1 500. We’ve trained some of them, and we have 865 of those who were CCGs who are now staff nurses in the province.”
There are also 536 who are Nutrition Advisors, who deal directly with things such as child malnutrition. They’re based in clinics and hospitals. All in all, there are 10 771 CCGs who have benefitted from this programme in KwaZulu-Natal.”
Former CCG Bongi Nzimande, from Ngubeni area in Pietermaritzburg, was among those who thanked the Government for bringing change and dignity into their lives.
"I'm from a very poor household. What we lived in could barely be called a home. It was built from mud. From the stipend that we were earning as CCGs, I was able to save up money and buy clothes to resell.”
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 our mother a home, which we are all staying in.”
“Today, I earn a decent income. I'm thankful to the Government for this opportunity and all the support," she said.