The struggle of the caregivers shows that the planned National Health Insurance (NHI) will be based on a casualized and collapsed public health system while private health care for profit is the real winner

 

When you walk into a clinic in the Eastern Cape, in the urban or far rural areas, you could be forgiven for thinking that you are being attended to by a trained nurse. However the chances are great that you being helped by a casual, a caregiver who receives R1500 per month and who still has to buy their own uniforms from their own pockets. What is more, the hundreds of caregivers have not received any increase in stipend (R1500 is not even a wage) since 2007. The irony of the terrible conditions of the caregivers is that when they become sick, they do not even have access to the nursing services that they are an integral part of providing.

 

The state’s threat to terminate even these precarious positions show that their priority is not the health of the people but the health of the bank balances of the private sector. This is because a collapsed health care system and the desperation of the families of the sickly, drive the masses to seek help at private clinics. How many of the dying have been turned away from the private hospitals and clinics, or could not even reach there?

 

The state, through the DG of health in the Eastern Cape, has insisted that the caregivers are not staff but part of the expanded public works programme. They have the arrogance to say that the caregivers are being paid above the going rate- they should keep quiet and be happy they have jobs. But with the huge crisis of shortages in nursing staff, it is not the public health care that has been ‘expanded’ but it has been deliberately collapsed. The state has a ‘collapse public works programme’ not a health care system.

 

Now we can see what the new NHI (National Health Insurance) is all about: Those without medical Aid (which is most workers), will now face a new 10% tax so that they can go to a collapsed public clinic and be assisted by an untrained casual. Obviously the worker will go to a private clinic (well, for at least a day, until their credit runs out and they are still evicted from the money-hungry profiteers).

 

The state has bailed out the brutal and corrupt Swazi regime with R2bn, the state is committed to bail out the European banks (via the IMF, International Monetary Fund), with a further R1bn, and now the state is bailing out the private health sector parasites by a new tax of 10% on the poorest paid workers- billions will be collected by this scheme and find their way into the bank accounts of the rich. We can only wonder which BEEE is gaining from such a bailout of the private sector, which already collects over 70% of all funds spent on health. The deliberate collapse of the public health ‘service’ is enough to make one sick!

 

Down with the NHI- forward to a nationalised health sector, under workers control!

Permanent status for all caregivers

Adequate training for the all caregivers

Increases in stipend to be on par with permanent health care workers and staff- equal pay for equal work

Uniform allowances

Provision of nursing services

 

The caregivers march on the 14th November 2011 to the office of the Director General of Health of the Eastern Cape, in Bisho. The march starts at 10am from the Fort Hare grounds in Bisho and proceeds to the Dukumbana building which houses the department of health.

 

The caregivers have further raised the demand that if their grievances are not addressed within 7 days, they will take the matter into the community and embark on a broader mass action campaign.

 

Further updates: From caregivers representative:

 

Bulelwa Faltein ph 0842798901