By Lefulesele Mahana

Minister of health, Honorable Selibe Mochoboroane has commended largely the good fight they as a ministry are continuing to fight in responding to the plight of all health workers in the country. This he did after both the representatives of Ts’epong staff and Village Health Workers (VHW) had tabled their work grievances at a May Day rally organized by Lesotho Association of Workers (LEWA).

Whilst every other effort had been made to win the battle against acceptable work conditions, it is evidently through wisdom they were able to conquer thus far. The minister declared this to hundreds of VHW who had come to Leribe to celebrate not only their very first May Day but also to celebrate their achievement over salaries and good working conditions.

In each program of health, village health worker should be taken in consideration because they are the soldiers of Ministry of Health. If there are resources procured or reserved for clinics and hospitals staff, the very same should be done to village health workers.

In response to miseries tabled by LEWA on behalf of VHW, Hon Mochoboroane reiterated the ministry of health has four priority points which are, service delivery in all the ten districts. Collect the headcount statistics of frontline soldiers (village health workers) so that they can be included in database of ministry of health. For that to ensue, there should be letters from their area chiefs stating the particulars of the VHW and the date of appointment. This is to ensure only valid VHW are paid.

Back then it was quite difficult to pay village health workers because their budget appeared under “line item” titled “operations”, for that matter it was not easy to reimburse them as the ministry’s operations are paid at any given time, in the end the funds allocated for VHW stipends are used. The minister has asked that there be changes whereby VHW allocated budget is placed under wages and salaries where no one will utilize the funds except for salaries. Honorable Selibe Mochoboroane made a plea to every village health worker to be part of the census, they should not fail to go so that they can be paid properly and rightfully.

“My satisfaction will be the day when I see all of us receiving our salaries at the same day. Knowing very well that when I the minister of health earn my money, my soldiers also earn their money.”

Village health workers policy has to be changed because that policy says something unnecessary, the policy defines that village health workers should be paid M800 unconditionally. That being the case the statement has to be removed. I and the ministry health are working on that policy already” he said.

Minister continued that whilst the VHW population census is being carried out in other districts, workers’ payments must still be made. Before the end of July my soldiers will have some savings together with presentable clothes so that they can be distinguished from an ordinary person. Once the village health workers appear on database, there will be an identification card entitling them to access free services at the nearest clinic or hospital also ask for medication. It is claimed that village health workers make very satisfying errand for that matter they also have to be rewarded for their great work.

One of the priority points that ministry of health has planned to do is to improve the services in Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital because the hospital has got lot of challenges. Ts’epong is a referral hospital and so it must look the part. Its services, the tools have to be sufficient for work to be perfectly done. Back then some people had to go to Maputsoe for a mere scan but now the scanning machine is available.

However, Honorable Mochoboroane indicated that the is still a clique of newly reported tuberculosis (TB) infections and cancer in the country for that matter he needs great support from all health sectors. This is to enable efforts in his ministry to overcome the diseases together with all stakeholders in the health sector. “These kind of diseases will only be conquered by preventing them rather than curing. There are champions in all health ministries who are frontline workers, those champions are village health workers,” he said.

The minister declared publicly that he himself has set an example in Mafeteng by being the first one to be tested for prostate cancer perhaps this was to array that testing for prostate cancer is for every one not for particular people. In all health facilities in Lesotho, the ministry of health has assured that in a period of six months there will be enough resources used to test for cancer preferably prostate and cervical cancer. With that being the case he made a plea to all his champions (village health workers) to make sure in every community all women undergo cervical cancer test and men for prostate cancer test. Also children preferably girls, between the age of 9 and 13 should be injected to prevent cervical cancer. Apart from that, boys should go to the hospitals or clinics for circumcision.

It is embarrassing that our country is reported to have high rate of TB infections, the only way to prevent TB is to soldier on, access hard to reaching areas and validate each and every one tests for TB. Infected people have to be put under special treatment immediately and they have to be encouraged that they go for treatment. While touring in different districts, it was acknowledged that in some of the districts the infections rate is low while in some of the districts the rate of TB infections goes high.

The minister in the end applauded the incredible work done by the Lesotho Association of Workers saying they have made his work easy, stress free, a lot has been achieved through their support. He is currently traveling the country with the secretary general Mr. Hlalefang Seoaholimo ensuring verification is a success and no government money shall be paid to non-existing workers.