24 March 2011

South Africa: WC Care Workers' Stipends Under Review

Pretoria — While the Western Cape Health Department is satisfied with progress made in strengthening the fight against HIV and TB in the province, a need for the review of community care workers' stipends has been raised.

Health MEC Theuns Botha said last year the department, in partnership with NGOs, signed an agreement committing to strengthen the fight against HIV and TB in the province, but stressed that in order to achieve this, the stipends for community care workers need to be reviewed.

"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," Botha said, adding that he has requested his department to make recommendations in this regard.

He also pointed out that case detection remained a focus area and intensified TB case finding was a key priority for the coming financial year.

TB and HIV Care Association Director, Professor Harry Hausler, also noted the progress made but emphasised a need for more intensified engagement with communities to ensure that TB and HIV are controlled in the province.

"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," said Hausler, echoing Botha's sentiments.

TB and HIV Care Association is a NGO that is committed to working in partnership with government to help prevent, find and treat TB and HIV cases.

The provincial TB and HIV campaign is currently underway in all 32 sub-districts of the province, focusing on intensified TB case finding using the HCT Campaign as a vehicle for detecting more TB cases at health facilities, as well as in the community. It also focuses on follow-up and tracing of TB patients and defaulters.

The campaign uses a two-pronged approach by engaging and capacitating communities to increase their knowledge of TB and HIV, and motivating them to take responsibility for their own health by testing for HIV and being screened for TB if they are symptomatic.

The department urges anyone with a persistent cough, fever, night sweats or weight loss to go to the clinic to have a test for TB.

South Africa's fight against TB is set to receive a major boost today, as Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi unveils new technology to be used in the fight against TB at an event in Prince Mshiyeni hospital, Durban.

The new technology is able to complete TB testing in two hours, as opposed to the current three weeks.

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