Community health workers allowance should be reviewed: CWGH
By Letwin Mubonesi
Stakeholders in the health sector have called for an urgent upward review of the US$15 allowances paid to community health workers (CHWs) as they play an important role in providing public health services to communities.
Presently, the government is relying on these community health experts who largely work on a voluntary basis to assist the health ministry and the ratio of healthcare workers to the population is very low at 1, 23 per 1 000.
From the US$15 that they are getting as allowances, US$1 is deducted towards payment for bicycles which some of them received under the Global Fund in 2010.
Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) Executive Director, Itai Rusike said government should seriously consider an upward review of the allowances paid to the CHWs so that they could be supported by the national health budget and get motivated to work.
He said, “CHWs continue to augment the work being done by the mainstream health sector: raising awareness, giving health advice, monitoring growth of children less than five years, and mobilising communities during outreach programmes for immunization. But despite these vital functions, the number of CHWs and their role has diminished over the past two decades in Zimbabwe.
“Others are paid on time while some can go for long periods without getting their allowances or tools of the trade and they can be demotivated to work in such scenarios.”
In the past, CHWs benefited from incentives such as uniforms, bicycles and allowances from money allocated through the national budget but of late these kind of incentives are now erratic and not being administered equitably.
“It is risky and unsustainable for a country to depend substantially on external partners as donors can withdraw financial support anytime should their interests shift for some reason,” Rusike said.