…but minister promises to pay them by month-end
Village Health Workers throughout Lesotho say they have not been getting paid for the service they have been providing for the country for the longest time.
According to ‘Mats’epang Kaneli, of the New Lesotho Village Health Work, an association representing most of the village health workers in Lesotho, for the longest time the Ministry of Health has promised to pay health workers at least M800 per month.
“However, now when we want the money we hear many stories. ” she said.
“We were told by our representatives who have been to the Ministry of Health that there is a new policy governing village health workers. They said according to the policy, a village health worker has to be someone who has at least attained Junior Certificate. But the first time the ministry engaged us, we were told that the ministry only wanted someone who could read and write without any qualifications. Now when are supposed to get what is due to us we are told this. That is why we are determined to go to court,” she said.
“We work very hard by bringing patients to the hospital but there is no reward. There are some of us who get M400 per month but it is not consistent they sometimes get it and some months they do not get paid. That makes us to even forget how much the ministry owes us,” she said.
Kaneli also stated that in their fight against Covid-19, they have nothing to protect themselves as there are no personal protective equipment at their disposal.
“We do not have anything to protect ourselves when we work with patients even in these days of covid-19, we only have plastic gloves and use our own cloth masks. We have nothing from the ministry to protect us of the virus. In actual fact the same ministry we are helping does not take us serious, they just take us as volunteers and do not think of protecting us,” she protested.
Meanwhile, in an interview with this publication, the Minister of Health Motlatsi Maqelepo said there is no reason why the health ministry is poorly performing with all the staff at its disposal down to the village health workers. “There is no ministry which is most supported more than the Ministry of Health,” he said.
“We have started working on a plan with my colleagues including the United Nations Resident Coordinator Salvator Niyonzima to discuss and assess if the funds they are always donating to the health ministry are indeed being used to improve the health system in the country,” he said.
“We have come up with a strategy to go out to the district and villages to work to improve the health systems as well as improving the lives of the village health workers. The ministry can benefit wonderful results if the village health workers are well treated,” he said.
Maqelepo indicated that he has instructed Dr Thabelo Ramatlapeng, the ministry’s Public Health Specialist to make sure that by the end of October 2020 all the names of the village health workers are collected coupled with how much the ministry has to pay them.
“I have learned that the village health workers some of them have not been getting any money since around 2012. The cabinet has also instructed that village health workers should earn M800 per month. I understand the importance of the village health worker. We cannot control pandemic diseases when we are not improving the lives of the village health workers,” he said.
The minister further stated that after the village health workers are paid he needs to see them reporting for duty.
“To ensure that they are also doing something, I am going to involve the chiefs and councillors because through them I will be able to know when the clinics are not operating. I have received reports that some of the health centers close earlier than expected because not all hands are on deck,” he said.