BLOEMFONTEIN, 27th June: Over 50 community healthcare workers from Bloemfontein are currently staging a sit-in within Bophelo House – the headquarters of the Free State Health Department – in frustration over the on-going crisis in the provincial health system. A demonstration was held throughout the night to highlight the urgent need for action to address the collapsing health system and in particular draw attention to the non-payment and uncertain employment status of community healthcare workers in the province.
In April the MEC of Health, Benny Malakoane sent a circular to all community healthcare workers terminating their contracts claiming they were ghost workers. Following this the Head of Department sent a second circular stating that their services should not be stopped. The provincial department are currently allowing NGOs to manage the payment of the community healthcare workers. As of now the community healthcare workers taking action have not been paid their R1 500 stipend for the last two months and have received no information regarding the reasons for this. They do not wish to be paid via an NGO and are demanding to be absorbed back into the health system.
A partner’s meeting had been called by the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) to address the crisis facing the Free State health system, however this meeting has now been cancelled and all partners will be joining the protesters at Bophelo House. As it stands no one from the Provincial Department of Health has spoken to the demonstrators and the MEC and Head of Department are unavailable. The police have arrived at the scene and there are concerns arrests will take place. This is a peaceful sit in and we urge the South African Police Service to use restraint.
For more information and to arrange interviews contact:
Mary-Jane Matsolo on 079 802 2686 / 079 328 1215
Lotti Rutter on 021 422 1700 / 081 818 8493
Read the statement issued by the TAC on Thursday 24th June demanding urgent and immediate intervention in the Free State from the Minister of Health: tac.org.za/news/free-state-health-system-collapse-%E2%80%93-lives-are-being-lost-urgent-immediate-intervention-minister