Unpaid Gauteng caregivers on strike

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Health Spokesman

Spare a thought on this Mandela day for thousands of very sick people who won’t be visited in the homes by caregivers who have been on strike in Gauteng for two weeks because the NGOs they work for have not been paid by the Gauteng Health Department.

More than 400 NGOs have petitioned the department to continue their contracts to provide home-based care to thousands of needy people around the province, but have not received any response.

The caregivers visit sick people in their homes, bathe them and ensure that they have food and clean sheets. Their patients are mostly terminally ill or have HIV/Aids.

Yesterday I visited one of the unpaid NGOs, Westbury Aids Support Group (WASG) in west Johannesburg. I was accompanied by DA Councillor Pat Richards who has helped them since they were founded in September 2000.

WASG has 32 staff who treat 104 adult patients, and 97 orphans and vulnerable children.

They usually receive R147 000 every quarter from the Gauteng Health Department, but were paid late for the April to June quarter and the department is delaying the renewal of their contract.

Their caregivers are only doing emergency visits to HIV/Aids and terminally ill patients.

It is really tragic that very ill people are suffering in their homes without assistance as the department is dragging its heels in renewing the NGO contracts.

Payments must be resumed to the NGOs as soon as possible so that the caregivers can continue to do their valuable work.