Story by Mishack Mahlangu, the OurHealth Citizen Journalist reporting from the Tshwane district in Gauteng.
TSHWANE. - HIV counsellors working in the districts of Mabopane, Soshanguve, Winterveldt and Garankuwa are complaining that their grievances with the Gauteng Department of Health are not being addressed.
The counsellors, who work in HIV counselling and testing (HCT), prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) and anti-retroviral treatment (ART) say they are demoralised by the working conditions in their clinics.
The counsellor from Mabopane complained of the heavy workload she faces at the clinic. “After seeing around 25 patients per day, I still have to go home and take care of home chores,” she said. She is also concerned by the R1500 stipend she receives monthly which is very little compared to the responsibilities. Another counsellor complained that they have not received their stipend for the past three months, and this includes money for transport which they use to travel to and from patients. Resulting in many patients not being visited.
One patient at Soshanguve Clinic who regularly comes for HCT said that he noticed a decline in the engagement between counsellors and patients, which to him is an indication of the pressure counsellors are under.
A nurse in the clinic who sympathises with the counsellors explained that although they are doing their best, the lack of support and guidance they receive from the Gauteng Department of Health is worrying.