South African government news site, Buanews, has reported on the issue of stipends for community health workers (CHWs), in the Western Cape area, where treatment for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) is largely undertaken in the community.
Ministry of health spokesman, Theuns Botha, said that as long as there is a commitment to making a real impact on HIV/AIDS and TB in the province, stipends for CHWs would need to be taken into consideration.
"Community care workers and TB treatment supporters form an essential part of the success rate for total recovery, but the financial compensation is not satisfactory," he said.
His sentiments were echoed by Professor Harry Hausler, director of the TB and HIV Care Association, who stated: "The time is now for community care workers, including TB treatment supporters, to receive better pay in recognition of the contribution that they make to deliver health services in their communities."
CHWs are usually selected by their neighbours and peers to provide primary healthcare and the majority work on a voluntary basis. Ministries of health across sub-Saharan Africa are beginning to assess the potential for monthly stipends as a way of formalising the role of the CHW within the exiting health infrastructure and recognising the vital gap that CHWs are currently filling.
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