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Unpaid Village Health Workers Approach First Lady

Chitungwiza City Health Promoters (CHP) have approached the office of the First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa for mediation after spending 36 months without receiving their quarterly allowances. The workers have since been referred to the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, which superintends over council clinics.

Though the UNDP, which disburses funding for programmes undertaken by the voluntary workers, recently announced it is up-to-date with payment of its workforce countrywide, the 120 CHPs in Chitungwiza — traditionally referred to as Village Health Workers (VHWs) — are now threatening to withdraw their services to compel authorities to attend to their grievances.

The health promoters are supposed to receive $126 per quarter (three months) per person and they allege they last received their payouts during the first quarter of 2015. They are collectively owed over $50 000 and some of the workers interviewed said life for them had become so unbearable they could not even fend for their own families, even when they were expected to be caregivers for the community.

Spokesperson of the combined VHWs Mr Jim Diamond said they had exhausted efforts to get help from their immediate superiors, some of who had told them payment was being delayed by Ecocash agents.

It was ridiculous to suggest that a transaction would take as much as three years to get to the intended recipient, argued Mr Diamond. The health promotion officer for Chitungwiza , Mr Obed Mukuya, could not be reached for comment. A caregiver at Chitungwiza Clinic, Mr Munyaradzi Chizola, said some of the caregivers’ working conditions were appalling.

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