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Victory for village health workers

Business

Ntsoaki Motaung

The Ministry of health has been ordered by the Directorate Dispute Prevention and Resolution (DDPR) to pay M84,000 to five village health workers who have not been paid from June 2021 to February 2023.

The case between the five village health workers was heard on February 22, 2023, in Qacha’s Nek by arbitrator Lieketso Ntene.

Applicants were ‘Makhabele Motseko, Nomishini Sekhokhoane, Khate Seahlolo, Nolax Sephephetho, and Lisebo Pitso, while the ministry of health was the respondent.

According to the arbitration award handed down by Ntene, each of the applicants was supposed to get M800 monthly.

The award was made after the respondent failed to attend any hearings, and the arbitrator proceeded with a default judgment based on the applicants’ evidence.

The award read: “The total amount owing to each applicant from June 2021 to February 2023 is M800 by 21 months which is equivalent to M16, 800.00.”

It added: “Respondent is ordered to pay M16, 800.00 to each applicant. It should be paid at the Labour Office, Qacha ‘s Nek, within 30 days of receipt of this award.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health’s Community Health Manager, Likeleli Nkhapetla said the village health workers have been paid, based on the information she has from the responsible department.

During his inauguration speech in October last year, Prime Minister Ntsokoane Matekane said the outstanding allowances to all village health workers would be paid within the government’s first 100 days.

In December last year during the commemoration of World AIDS day at Bethany Health Center in Berea, minister of health Selibe Mochoboroane promised to address the financial challenges facing village health workers.

Mochoboroane said the ministry was working to ensure that village health workers receive their salaries smoothly like other civil servants.

“We are now working on making sure that from now until the end of December, you should be paid the rest of the money that the ministry owes you. We are also working towards ensuring that from April in the next financial year, 2023/2024, you get paid monthly like any other civil servant,” he said.

He said up on his arrival at the ministry, his priority was to address village health workers’ problems and in trying to do that, there was a management meeting held every Monday.

The agenda of those meetings, he divulged, was village health workers’ issues which he said needed to be addressed for primary health care to be strengthened.

Mochoboroane said delayed payment for village health workers had been a challenge for the longest time and the explanation that he was given was that village health workers’ wages were incorporated in the operations budget when it was supposed to be a budget on its own.

The director general of health services, Dr ‘Nyane Letsie, at the opening of East Central and Southern Africa – Health Community (ECSA-HC) 13th best practices forum (BPF) and 29th directors’ joint consultative committee meeting held ahead of the 71st health ministers conference scheduled in February this year said the country is very proud of the work village health workers do.

“In Lesotho, if there is something that we are proud of is our village health worker program and our village health worker policy and the joint efforts that are being made between them and our leadership, Letsie said.

She stated that if she was to do a presentation about how village health workers in Lesotho were selected and how their service package was improved and how they had enormously contributed to the fight against COVID-19, it would take her all 10 minutes.

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